Tuesday, February 13, 2018

NJ Needs School Funding Equity NOW

Last summer's dramatic state shutdown resulted in a small but significant step toward school funding equity in New Jersey.  The gubernatorial and legislative elections that followed provided clear mandates for influential leaders who have consistently pledged to fund our schools equitably and fully.  The time has come for those pledges to become reality.

While the title of today's NJ Spotlight op-ed by Carl Golden, political analyst and former aide to Governors Kean and Whitman, is provocative, its contents point to where the politics are headed.  Here are some excerpts:

Sweeney has been both adamant and clear that any increase sought by the governor in aid to public education must be accompanied by revisions in the aid formula to eradicate what he contends are inequities that punish some districts ...

...Sweeney is in a position to make a strong and reasonable public policy argument in support of the government embracing fairness and equal treatment in the distribution of some $9 billion in taxpayers' money to local education.

Treating the state's school children equally no matter where they live or what kind of school they attend is his goal, while also providing a measure of property-tax relief to those underfunded districts. It's an argument the NJEA will find difficult to counter.

I believe these sentiments reflect the intent of the majority of our Legislature as well as its leadership.  Now in office for nearly one month, Governor Murphy and his team will be announcing a budget one month from today that will recommend resources to support his vision for the state.  We have an open moment, and it's time to do the right thing!

A growing and committed group of citizens, parents, board of education members, and community and school leaders from across the state continue to communicate and plan advocacy efforts that have included:
  • Testimony at Senate/Assembly Budget and Education hearings, accompanied at times by large groups of concerned parents and citizens;
  • Legislative calling and emailing campaigns led by parent organizations;
  • Private sessions with legislators and DOE officials to present pertinent data and address questions; 
  • Media interviews with education journalists to inform the wider public;
  • Social media posts to engage advocacy groups and other interested parties;
  • Local presentations and stakeholder discussions (e.g., BOEs, town councils, parent groups)
  • Regional meetings where key decision-makers and influencers are invited to discuss the issues; and
  • Legal action through petitions to NJDOE and filings to NJ Superior Court.

Please contact the Governor and your Legislators NOW!

Advocate for school funding equity NOW for your district and for all underaided children across the state of New Jersey!!

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