OPINION: $50 Million for Camden High is Money Down the Toilet

OPINION: $50 Million for Camden High is Money Down the Toilet

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

ToiletI can point to many wasteful education expenditures in this state that Governor Chris Christie can’t circumvent thanks to a Democratic Senate-guaranteed liberal bent of New Jersey Supreme Court; they stubbornly continue to legislate education funding policy from the bench. Only a GOP-controlled State Senate is going to change that.

This isn’t one such instance. 

“Camden is a city full of promise and potential and so are its students,” said Governor Christie during a Tuesday presser, flanked by South Jersey Democrats and state officials, announcing a multi-million dollar New Jersey Schools Development Authority (SDA) investment for renovations at Camden High School.  “The more than $50 million investment we are making to rehabilitate and renovate Camden High School is also an investment in the children of this city. The renovated facility will have a lasting imprint, educating a new generation of Camden students while ensuring they have a quality learning environment in which to thrive.”

I respectfully and wholeheartedly disagree.

I won’t speculate as to the political currents running behind the scenes on this one or the size of the award itself since I’m not in the room and, frankly, we don’t even need to. The substance itself is worthy of criticism.

An “upgraded” failure factory is still a failure factory. Tens of millions of dollars (!!!) sunk into physical/structural improvements for schools which, in the past, Governor Christie repeatedly (and correctly) labeled “failure factories” is an inexcusable waste of money. Pure and simple. And Camden will never, ever be accurately described as city of “promise” ever again until that magical day when our ruling classes change their thinking in this regard.

I’m sure the new-and-improved Camden High School Failure Factory will feature cavernous stairwells like the ones in a North Jersey sister city, Paterson, where taxpayers are currently subsidizing students – to the tune of $20,454 per head, per year – only for them to have sex in the stairwells.

What’s worse, we just found out that only 3% of SAT-taking Paterson students are college-ready.


The number in Camden, where only 3 of 26 schools aren’t considered “failing” institutions? 


Not 3% like Paterson. 3 kids.

Let me be clear: Governor Christie did not create the education mess in New Jersey. In many instances he’s tried to fix it or, perhaps more accurately, take on the teachers unions and at least begin a discussion about how to treat the root causes (not just the symptoms) underlying the rot of our country’s once-great public education system.

Yet waste per se is the least of the sins here. The worse part? Yesterday’s announcement inadvertently lends credence to the long-since-debunked teachers union rallying cry that a dearth of funds is what ails our schools. It reinforces the bad guys’ failed strategy through the acceptance of a bad premise. Fundamentally, it’s a setback for another long-suffering generation of New Jersey urban students who are doomed to get the same shitty education in the same drug-and-crime infested neighborhood from the same underpaid faculty… just now in a marginally nicer building. Until the next generation of neighborhood reprobates mucks it up for everyone else.

At least the politically-connected trades unions will reap BIG rewards from the new construction projects. They always do when Trenton gets to feeling “bipartisan.”

And around and around we go… right down the toilet.

A better idea: an executive order allotting $50 million for a voucher pilot program.

Don’t tell me it’s not constitutional/legal. Since when does that matter in 2014 American politics? I’d rather see the legislative branch circumvented to save U.S. citizen children than those from another land.


7 thoughts on “OPINION: $50 Million for Camden High is Money Down the Toilet

  1. No. It must come with change. Modeled after successful school systems. Frisco, Texas offers 40 minutes of tutoring and homework help every morning. I just don’t know if Camden’s teachers would go for that.

  2. There is no justification for spending FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS (that we don’t have, BTW), on a school that “was the 339th-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 339 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine’s September 2014 cover story on the state’s “Top Public High Schools”, using a new ranking methodology.[7] The school had been ranked 287th in the state of 328 schools in 2012, after being ranked 322nd and lowest in 2010 out of 322 schools listed.[8] The magazine ranked the school 316th in 2008 as the lowest out of 316 schools.[9] The school was ranked 314th in the magazine’s September 2006 issue, which surveyed 316 schools across the state.” AND “A report by RT News indicated that in the city of 80,000, only three high school students posted SAT scores deemed “college ready.”

  3. Uh, is this a trick question? Throwing money at Abbott districts has never worked, and never will. Period.

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