Well, no, not in an ideal world. It’s a great idea – forget about a kid’s zip code, forget about disparities in district wealth and opportunity, and channel the same cost per pupil right to the child’s resident district. Add more for special education needs, economic disadvantages, English Language Learners, and full-day preschools in high-poverty areas. Bingo: equity achieved.
One little problem: we don’t have the cash. During a conference call with community newspaper editors this week, Governor Corzine admitted that N.J.’s ability to increase school funding this year “was possible only because of the federal stimulus package” and he “acknowledged that the future of such funding is uncertain,” according to CentralJersey.
Corzine’s admission is refreshingly honest. He’s right: we can’t afford to sustain our public school system under its current structure. We pay more than anyone else in the country (though we battle New York for the trophy for Miss Profligacy), our graduation rate stinks (once you subtract the kids who graduate with a meaningless certificate because of our very own diploma mill factory, also known as the Special Review Assessment), and our state assessments are dropping (yes, the DOE has raised the cut for passing from 40% to 50%, but still…).
Education reformer ears perk up when they detect Christie’s passion for the expansion of charter schools, but he’s so light on details that it sounds like just another campaign talking point. We know more about his driving record than we know about his educational strategies (besides doing away with preschool funding for impoverished kids, a particularly bone-headed idea). Come on, guys: how about just a dab of substance?