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.