Opportunity Scholarship Act Update

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Sponsors of the Opportunity Scholarship Act, the bill that would authorize a pilot program to create corporate-supported vouchers for low-income kids to go to private or parochial schools, filed a new version of the legislation yesterday in the State Assembly.

Two big changes: first, the number of school district participants is down to seven, from an original thirty : Newark, Camden, Passaic, Elizabeth, Lakewood, Asbury Park and Orange. Second, Senator Ray Lesniak has dropped his sponsorship, most likely because a famed parochial school in Elizabeth, Lesniak’s home, has already closed due to lack of funds.

Assembly sponsors are now Angel Fuentes, Lou Greenwald, Jon Bramnick, Gary Schaer, Troy Singleton, Gilbert Wilson, Jerry Green, David Rible, Sean Kean, Holly Schepisi. Last week Senator Tom Kean Jr. filed the bill in the Senate.

NJ Spotlight notes the Christie Administration’s keen interest in getting the bill through the Legislature. However, “for close to a decade, every time it appears to gain ground, the bill then suffers a setback and disappears from public view for a few months. It faces furious opposition, most notably from the New Jersey Education Association and other education groups that see it as an attack on public schools.”

The public, however, seems to be warming to the idea, especially given the slender version of this bill compared to its heftier progenitor. A recent poll from Monmouth University asked, “”Would you support or oppose using tax funds to pay for a voucher program so children living in low-income areas can go to a different school?” Support for OSA came out at 55%; 34% of those queried opposed the measure.

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3 Comments

  • Julia, March 16, 2012 @ 4:34 pm Reply

    Laura,

    The public is not warming to vouchers.

    The poll you referenced didn't clarify that these taxpayer funded vouchers were for private or religious schools. That is a key omission as that poll could be interpreted to mean vouchers to attend other public schools.

    As you reported recently, Quinnipiac polled the question two weeks ago and found that NJ residents opposed taxpayer funded vouchers for private and religious schools by 50 to 44 and democrats opposed them by 67 to 29. Even urban residents, who would presumably be receiving the vouchers, opposed them 57 to 37%.

    The people of NJ do not want taxpayer funded vouchers. So why are some legislators so determined to force them on us?

  • kallikak, March 16, 2012 @ 6:02 pm Reply

    The fact that Sen. Lesniak's interest waned when his favorite local parochial school closed should tell us volumes about the true motives of many of OSA's supporters.

  • COMMENTARY: Hear Me Out on My Voucher Proposal - NJ Left Behind, November 2, 2020 @ 11:19 am Reply

    […] Scholarship Act,” and alter it so that eligible families are not left with additional costs. I reported back then that this bipartisan bill — for the first time, it had two Democratic sponsors —  […]

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