By Matt Rooney
Paterson City’s current school aid haul is staggering, Save Jerseyans: $439,251,959. For the 2020-2021 school year, Governor Murphy is/was seeking $463,287,019. That’s for a city of about 145,000 residents with around 28,000 K-12 students; New Jersey taxpayers are spending between $16,000 to $17,000 per student! Tuition at Paramus catholic, by the way, is $10,275 for the 2019-2020 school year.
Despite this embarrassment of riches afforded to one of our state’s most challenged communities? NorthJersey.com reported on Friday that Paterson’s public school students are being asked to submit HANDWRITTEN homework during the going COVID-19 state of emergency.
They’re allegedly planning to get laptops to every Paterson public high school student by Monday, “[b]ut the district remains about 4,000 laptops short of having enough to provide them to middle school students. As a result, students in Paterson elementary schools will continue getting the ditto sheets with the review assignments for the foreseeable future, officials said.” Around 26% of the kids enrolled in Paterson schools don’t have computer access at home.
Is this New Jersey?
Passing paper and boxes of paper back-and-forth is a serious COVID-19 health risk for the Paterson community. It’s also a logistical nightmare and a clear impediment to learning.
We know what the problem is here. I’ve written about it over, and over, and over again.
Trenton and the NJEA vociferously defend a long-broken school funding formula; this formula throws ridiculous amounts of money at poor districts without any accountability or logic baked into the appropriations. Firing half of Paterson’s almost 60 principals (!) would free of sufficient capital to make sure each of the households in Paterson’s “26%” have a basic laptop and a strong Internet connection.
What’s the incentive for school districts like Paterson to, for example, make sure it’s prioritizing technological capability over administrative spending? Especially when they’re guaranteed a steady stream of cash every year?
There’s isn’t one.
Pity the children of Paterson, Save Jerseyans. Pandemic times or not, they continually get the short end of the stick because throwing money at problems makes rich suburban liberals feel good about themselves.
Save Jersey’s Founder and Blogger-in-Chief, MATT ROONEY is a nationally-noted and respected New Jersey political commentator. When he’s not on-line, radio or television advocating for conservative reform and challenging N.J. power-brokers, Matt is a practicing attorney at the law firm of DeMichele & DeMichele in Haddon Heights (Camden County).