How Do You Get From Trenton to Montgomery?

A new organization, Citizens for Successful Schools, examines the gaping disparities in opportunity and achievement between poor and rich districts in New Jersey. Example: Montgomery High School, a “J” district with the highest wealth rating on our District Factor Group scale of A to J, and Trenton Central High, an “A” district 14 miles away in distance and light years away in academics.

CCS makes the important point that it’s not about money: “The spending per-student in Trenton is $16,000, while in Montgomery it is $12,000.” If it the answer were so simple we would have solved it decades ago.

Will the newly-passed Assembly Bill 355, the Interdistrict School Choice Program, offer any succor to students in Trenton barred from neighboring Montgomery? Not specifically because Montgomery is in Somerset County and Trenton is in Mercer; the bill limits interdistrict transfers within home counties. However, Trenton is surrounded by successful Mercer school districts like Princeton and West Windsor. Problem solved? Not so readily. Princeton or West Windsor would need to apply to participate in the Interdistrict School Choice Program and offer their districts to applicants with tuition and transportation paid by Trenton.

We live in hope that officials in successful school districts will see beyond their borders and offer educational opportunities to students stuck within the walls of cities like Trenton.