Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman.
NJ Governor Chris Christie, 3/19/13:
Gov. Chris Christie today picked up the endorsement of Orthodox Jewish education, community and business leaders, after bringing his small government message to a retirement community down the road.
At Yeshiva Toras Aron, a religious school for boys, Christie said his proposal for private school vouchers would ensure it is “the education of the parents’ choice, regardless of their economic situation, that governs how their children are educated.”
Invoking his epic battles with the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, Christie said “special interests” have stood in the way of the Opportunity Scholarship Act.
Christie accepted the endorsement of three sectors comprising the Orthodox community including Igud, which oversees more than 30 Lakewood yeshivas; the Vaad, a coalition of rabbis, businessmen and town leaders and Mayor Albert Akerman.
“In the town of Lakewood, there is no question what the No. 1 priority of everyone in the orthodox community is, there is one priority and that is education,” said Rabbi Shlomo Kanarek, who heads the Igud and called Christie “a longtime friend.”
In addition to financial support for private education, Christie shares what speakers called the moral values of the community including “upholding the sanctity of traditional marriage,” said Vadd member Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg.
Lakewood Mayor Albert Akerman noted Ocean County Chairman George Gilmore promised the county GOP would deliver Christie 100,000 votes this year, surpassing the 71,000 plurality four years ago. [emphasis mine]
Golly, do you think that maybe the Lakewood Orthodox Jewish community will benefit disproportionately from vouchers?
Based on the Census ACS data from a few years back, there were over 17,000 privately schooled students in Lakewood, and OVER 10,400 OF THOSE STUDENTS WERE IN FAMILIES THAT REPORTED THEMSELVES AS BEING BELOW THE 250% POVERTY-INCOME THRESHOLD!
Recall that Newark had about 2,000 low income private school enrolled children.
Orange/East Orange combined have under 900.
All of the cities around Asbury Park combined about 400 (meaning that Asbury Park alone is likely much less).
Camden about 1,300
Elizabeth about 1,000
The entire area (several towns/districts) around Perth Amboy about 1,000 (meaning that Perth Amboy is likely only a fraction of that amount)
And again, Lakewood, over 10,000! (and Passaic, another significant amount)
In other words, all of the other locations combined do not have the sum total of low income private school enrolled children that Lakewood has. Lakewood would likely be the epicenter of NJOSA scholarship distribution. I noted in my first post on this topic that if the average scholarship amounts were as proposed, the Lakewood Yeshiva schools would stand to take in as much as $67 million per year in these indirect taxpayer subsidies.
That’s $67 million a year in taxpayer money so Yeshivas in Lakewood can teach the importance of “upholding the sanctity of traditional marriage.”
Vouchers in New Jersey are clearly not about “saving” children in “failing” schools. Vouchers are all about winning votes in conservative religious communities. Even the mayor of Lakewood says so. Why argue the point?
So what if I support vouchers to get votes in Lakewood? Wanna make something of it?