Dialogue of the Day

Former New Jersey governors Brendan T. Byrne and Tom Kean discuss potential cuts to preschool programs for poor kids and NJ's school funding formula):
Star-Ledger: Some legislators are talking about restoring money to suburban school districts by cutting back on state-funded preschool programs? Is this a good idea?

BYRNE: I’m not crazy about it. What we have found out about education is that the earlier you can get to kids — especially those in inner-city schools — the better off they are. This proposal seems to be flying in the face of that concept.

KEAN: You’re right about the education research. On other hand, we’ve had a school aid formula that’s been fouled up for a number of years, and some towns with economically deprived students aren’t getting much aid at all. We should look beyond the so-called Abbott districts and develop a formula that’s fair to all.

BYRNE: I still hear from educators that a lot money is being wasted. I think we ought to maintain constant vigilance, examining where the money is going and how effectively it’s being used, because there is well-justified skepticism.

KEAN: Unfortunately, we have wasted more money on education over the last 20 years than on anything else. That’s money that hasn’t benefited children. After all the spending, test scores have gone down instead of up. We should look at the whole program and use the latest research and figure out how to do it right. If we’re going to spend all this money, the kids have to benefit.