Seeds of School Choice

During our rambles, we stumbled upon an interesting piece of testimony from 1998 during a hearing of the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee regarding our incubating Interdistrict School Choice Program. Two things pop out:

1) One of the initial arguments for creating the program is that in 1992 NJEA bargained successfully with the Legislature to pass a statute that says, “"Resident enrollment shall include, regardless of residence, the enrolled children of teaching staff members who are permitted, by contract or district policy, to enroll their children in the educational program of the school district without payment of tuition." In other words, children of N.J. public school teachers can choose to attend the district employing their parents. Testifies then-Education Commissioner Leo F. Klagholz, “We saw this as an unfairness” because “tuition was waived for the children of educators but not for other parents.” And, thus, Interdistrict School Choice was born.
2) Senator Robert J. Martin brought up the case of Mountain Lakes, one of the best high schools in the state. Out-of-district parents with sufficient income regularly pay tuition to send their kids there, and part of the intent of Interdistrict School Choice was to allow parents, regardless of means, to have a choice too. Explains Senator Martin,
I am troubled, as I know many other people are, with the fact that New Jersey is as segregated as it is with public education. One of the features that I could foresee with choice-- You would have to take some aspects of voluntariness, and it would have to be well crafted, and there's a lot of other features, but I saw that as a potential for easing and creating more integration not on a, perhaps, wide scale, but at least as a means of, perhaps, breaking down some of the barriers with districts that now are either decidedly white or decidedly black, even though they're almost door to door.