Mila Jasey's Charter Conversion

Speaking of the bill proposed by N.J. Assembly members Patrick Diegnan and Mila Jasey that would place a three-year moratorium on all charter school approvals, including long-planned expansion promised to families, an astute commenter on Friday’s post points out some discrepancies between Jasey’s current position as a foe of school choice and her position six years ago as a proponent.

A 2009 PolitickerNJ article explored a bill proposed by Senator Ray Lesniak and Assemblywoman Jasey that would permit parochial schools to convert to charter schools:
Senator Raymond J. Lesniak and Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey today introduced legislation which would allow private and parochial schools to convert to public charter schools, in an effort to stave off the closure epidemic facing many private schools around New Jersey, and give students, particularly in urban areas, more options for their public education.
 Lesniak’s position remains consistent. Jasey, not so much. In 2009 she said,
"It is clear to me that the status quo is not working for all children,” said Assemblywoman Jasey, D-Essex. “I want to explore every opportunity to provide equity and access to a world-class education for all students, no matter where they live and no matter what their circumstance.”
A few years later Jasey was asked by the N.J. School Boards Association if she supports “the use of public dollars to fund private schools via vouchers or tax credits.“
Answer: “ I believe that public dollars should be invested in public schools and under no circumstances would I support the implementation of vouchers, tax credits or any other program which would divert desperately needed funding to private or parochial schools.”

Why the radical shift in education philosophy? Hard to say. Her top campaign contributor is NJEA, which has similarly shifted to a more strident anti-charter stance.  (Diegnan’s top contributor is the N.J. Democratic Party; his second top contributor is NJEA.  NJEA’s PAC donated to Lesniak, but far less then it contributed to the campaigns of Diegnan and Jasey.)

Also, Jasey represents the 27th Legislative District. After N.J.’s redistricting in 2011, Jasey’s constituents  skewed upper-class as she added Milburn, and the Morris County townships of Chatham, East Hanover, Florham Park, and Hanover and, notably, lost representation of the City of Orange, an Abbott district.

Save Our Schools-NJ, charter foe extraordinaire,  is also now a fan of Mila Jasey’since her conversion to a supporter of public votes on charter schools. SOS-NJ’s Facebook page recalls a meeting in 2011 – the same year Jasey’s constituency shifted – where  “Save Our Schools NJ members representing Cherry Hill, East Brunswick, Highland Park, Princeton and South Brunswick” – all relatively wealthy districts – declared themselves aligned with Jasey.

So maybe she’s just representing her more monied constituency. But from supporter of parochial school charter conversions  to a charter moratorium?

Hamlet had it only half-right. Conscience does make cowards of us all, but so does the need to pander to special interests.

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