That's Sen. Ray Lesniak's gloomy prognosis for the Opportunity Scholarship Act, or the "voucher bill," a longtime goal for Gov. Christie and a bipartisan group of politicians, lobbyists, and (some) education reformers. In today's NJ Spotlight, Sen. Lesniak explains that"the movement became political and partisan and that's what killed it." Rev. Reginald Jackson, former director of the Black Minister's Council and bigtime voucher supporter, acknowledges that “any notion of vouchers in New Jersey, in whatever form, is on life support now.”
The article also notes that Tuesday's State of the State speech marked the first time that Gov. Christie spoke about his education agenda but neglected to mention his commitment to passing OSA.
In fact, the primary lobbying group behind OSA, Education for Everyone (E3), has "downsized." The latest posting on its website is this past July and Shirley Jackson (Rev. Jackson's wife, to give you a sense of the convoluted politics of the bill) is still listed as CEO even though she left a while ago.
Here's some background on the bill.
OSA is messy. It's advanced education reform, a graduate seminar complete with gnarled priorities and head-scratching inconsistencies and backroom politicking and constitutional conundrums. It's best presentation was an Assembly bill that addressed the perception that the whole thing was set up to benefit kids already in parochial school (mainly Jewish day schools) and not the truly needy. Like every other version, that one died in committee too.
You reach a point of despair about, say, Camden's public schools, where there's a moral imperative to offer any kind of educational option to that city's students, messy as it may be. That's where I was, anyway.
Labels: Christie, OSA, school choice, vouchers