Tag Archive: Schools

Op-Ed: Federal Funds Are Available to Help Secure Our Schools

U.S. Representative Steve Rothman, (D-Fair Lawn), has represented New Jersey’s 9th Congressional District since 1997 and sits on the House Appropriations Committee

In recent weeks, Americans have witnessed more school shootings-in Colorado, Wisconsin, Missouri and Pennsylvania. Every time these tragedies make headlines, there is a call for action. While there are many steps that we can take, there is already a federal law and funding available to help keep our local schools and our schoolchildren safe.

In 2000, along with my friend Congressman Henry Hyde (R-IL), I authored Secure Our Schools – a federal matching grant program for the purchase of school security equipment and for the security training of local school personnel. The bill passed the House and Senate and was then signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 28, 2000.

Secure Our Schools is administered by the Office of Community Oriented Policing (COPS) in the Department of Justice. These grants help towns cover the cost of school safety measures, such as metal detectors, locks, lighting, and other crime prevention tools. They also fund security assessments, training for students, teachers, and administrators, coordination with local law enforcement, and other actions that significantly improve school safety. 

Since its first year of funding in 2002, $50 million dollars has been distributed to 48 states under the Secure Our Schools program. More specifically, 756 local law enforcement agencies and municipalities have partnered with over 1,300 schools nationwide to participate in this program to ensure the safety of their local schoolchildren.

In New Jersey, nearly 80 Secure Our School grants have been awarded to our law enforcement agencies and school districts. Those grants were worth over $6 million and helped secure 160 schools.

I’m Tired Of Paying; You’re On Your Own

Rising property taxes are a serious issue, driving many out of the state and quickly making it unaffordable for thousands of others. A major cause of the problem is that our school systems are funded largely through local property taxes, so as school costs rise, those with fixed incomes, like retirees, are hit the hardest. A reasonable fix to address this aspect of the problem would be shifting the funding source from property taxes to income taxes. Property taxes and education are serious issues that deserve an honest debate, which is why it was disappointing to read an article by Tom Hester today titled New Jerseyans without schoolchildren: Why should we fund schools?

There’s many easy answers to this question. Education leads to lower crime rates and helps create a more skilled workforce and vibrant economy. Both of these things keep property values high. Public education is an investment from which everyone in society benefits.

Instead, Hester heard from people whose kids benefited from taxpayer funded education, but now want to bail out of the system:

George Rogozin’s three children have finished public school, but the 78-year-old East Greenwich man still watches much of his taxes go to educate children — other people’s children.
“I’m on a fixed income and it’s becoming ever so difficult to keep up,” Rogozin said. “When I pay my quarterly tax amount that eats up that month’s Social Security paycheck.”

Now as I said, I think our school funding system is unfairly structured and burdens those like Mr Rogozin who can afford it the least. But by this logic, why should I have to pay Social Security taxes? I’m not retired, and I don’t have any grandparents collecting Social Security. Since senior citizens are the ones mostly collecting Social Security, they should be the ones who pay for it, right? Of course not, that’s as dumb as suggesting only people with school-aged children should pay for education, but somehow it made sense to dedicate an entire article to that idea…

Why Charlie Epps is a Thief

The Jersey Journal‘s Ken Thorbourne writes:

Dozens of schools in Hudson County, most notably Jersey City, again failed to meet education standards in the past year, the state Department of Education reported yesterday.

Overall, 643 schools statewide, or 26.5 percent, did not meet standards in 2006, compared to 822, or 34 percent, last year, the department said. Some schools have closed or merged over the years.

In Jersey City – the state’s second-largest school district – 27 out of 33 schools failed to pass muster, according to the department’s preliminary results from the standardized tests administered in May, officials said.

Yes, ladies and gentlement, only six schools in Jersey City are worth sending your children to.  And for accomplishing that asshattery, Charlie Epps is paid well over $200,000.  Since JC is an Abbott District, that means that YOU paid him $200,000 to make sure 82% of the schools he supervises FAILED.

The Push to Kill Our Schools

Get ready, New Jersey, the battle of school vouchers is coming to a town near you.

The Star-Ledger reports:

School voucher advocates plan today to file a class-action lawsuit against the state and at least two dozen school districts in the first major legal effort to bring the hotly contested use of vouchers to New Jersey.

The lawsuit, Crawford v. Davy, will be filed in state Superior Court in Newark, they said, and will demand that the state and districts provide families of 60,000 children in 96 “failing schools” the right — and the money — to attend other schools of their choice, public or private.

Of course, all the right sounds are being made – this is not about funding religious education, it’s about helping kids; why don’t poor kids have the same opportunities as rich kids; why is it disproportionately racial minority children that get poor educations, etc., etc., etc.

Good News and Bad for Jersey Schools

The Star-Ledger‘s J. Scott Orr has some good news about secondary education in New Jersey:

Approximately 85 percent of students who begin high school in New Jersey end up with diplomas four years later, a figure that places the state atop the nation, according to a pair of reports issued yesterday.

The reports — from the nonprofit Editorial Projects in Education, publisher of Education Week, and the National Center for Education Statistics in the Department of Education — showed New Jersey’s graduation rate well above the national average of approximately 70 percent.

While this doesn’t address the two most vital components of why we send children to school (knowledge level and critical thinking skills) it is a rough measure of our commitment to keep kids in schools and give them the first step towards being successful in the world.  It’s something that educators and parents should take pride in accomplishing.

Now if we could show that same commitment to higher education.