Vouchers are Coming, Buono Says the Status Quo is Good Enough

Today a major step toward solving the civil rights issue of our time finally happened. The Senate Budget & Appropriations Committees approved the Opportunity Scholarship Act by a vote of 8-5. All Republicans on the committee voted in favor of the bill and were joined by Senators Stack, Beach, and Ruiz. The Democrats that decided to vote in favor of continuing to throw your money at failing schools, the equivalent to lighting something on fire just to watch it burn, are Senators Buono, Sarlo, Greenstein, Van Drew, and Cunningham. This bill establishes the groundwork for the first voucher system in New Jersey. It will only be a matter of time before the program can expand and ensure a great school in every zip code in this state.

This measure is just one of the reforms to be pursued this year by Governor Christie and members of the legislature who actually care about students and education. Any legislator who stands in the way of these important reforms is likely either against the idea of a proper education for every student in New Jersey, or simply in the pocket of the NJEA. The latter is far more likely, but I would discount the former completely when it comes to some members.

After the vote, Senator Buono had a town hall meeting in her district, listening to a bunch of constituents complain about Christie cutting their school surpluses in his first year and rolling back aid to districts in a time of fiscal crisis. From PolitickerNJ’s account, it would seem that these voters came armed with a laundry list of complaints and zero thought about solutions. Buono was very disappointed in the vote that took place today and expressed her concern about the Governor’s reform agenda. She dropped one notable quote that stuck out to me as somewhat odd…

The governor talks about our 200 failing schools . . . but in the State of New Jersey, we have 2,485 schools. I don’t think that’s a bad percentage.

I cannot believe a polished politician would say something so stupid in public. Apparently a 8% failure rate is completely acceptable for Senator Buono. She would be right, if she were not talking about the education of New Jersey’s children. Talk about living in a bubble. Did Senator Buono ever stop to think how she would feel if her child was stuck in that 8%? If they were forced to attend a failing school simply because of where they are growing up? Most of those 200 failing schools are in urban areas like Newark, Trenton, and Camden. They are disproportionately filled with minority students, many of them living in poverty or close to it. Failing schools fail these communities and only continue the cycle of issues that places like Camden cannot seem to shake. Giving these kids a legitimate chance at an education really means giving them a legitimate chance at life. Maybe the status quo really is good enough in affluent suburbia, or in the bubble where Senator Buono continues to live, but those students are not who these reforms are meant to help. The goal is to get take that 8% and get it as close to 0% as humanly possible.