Interdistrict school choice is one of the best new education programs legislators and Gov. Chris Christie have signed off on in recent years. Certainly, its scale is small — statewide there are only about 3,300 “choice” students who’ve moved to another district this year. Next year, that number is expected to jump to about 6,100. Still, that’s a drop in the bucket. Many of the schools accepting “choice” students only take a small number like 10 or 20 total.
Nonetheless, this program can mean everything in creating a better future for individual boys and girls across our state. It helps kids who desperately want to get out of a failing and/or dangerous school. Trapping them and sentencing them to a life deprived of quality education all in the name of maintaining an educational status quo based solely on geography is wrong. It’s one of the most maddening things about our state — we pour billions of extra dollars from Trenton into our most deprived schools, yet largely do nothing to see that those schools improve as they should. We accept that they continue to fail kids.
We have also, wrongly, accepted subjecting kids to bad schools because of the faulty argument that to offer a lifeline to some is a bad thing if that lifeline cannot be extended to all.
We believe throwing out multiple lifelines — be they public school choice, school vouchers, magnet and charter schools and simultaneously fixing the public schools — is the right path, the one that does best for kids, which is what the goal must always be.
With school choice, there’s little to cause angst except to those who want no change or competition whatsoever in our schools and to those few who fall back on classism and/or racism in balking at even a handful of kids from a neighboring community attending school in their town
Ignoring them, this is a program that helps kids get a chance they deserve and helps school districts, particularly smaller districts, fill empty seats and collect $8,500 in public funds per child. It’s the tax dollars following the child, as they should, rather than blindly following the institution.
Labels: school choice