New Jersey Parents, Ministers, Call for Choice

Published February 1, 2009

A bill creating a five-year tax credit scholarship program to help students in several of New Jersey’s worst public school districts has brought parents and ministers to the doorsteps of state senators, urging them to support it when it comes before a committee this year.

The Urban Enterprise Zone Jobs Scholarship Act would create a five-year pilot project to give 18,000 students in Camden, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Lakewood, Newark, Orange, Paterson, and Trenton the opportunity to attend the public or private school of their parents’ choice with the taxpayer dollars allotted to them, instead of forcing them to go to their failing local public schools.

Camden residents and members of the local Black Ministers Council rallied outside City Hall in early December with more than 7,000 petition signatures, asking state Sen. Dana Redd (D-Camden) to support the bill when it comes before the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

At press time the bill (S. 1607) had not been scheduled for a committee hearing. Sponsored by state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), its progress has been slow—the last action on it came in May, when it was voted out of the Economic Growth Committee 3-1 with one abstention.

Karla Dial ([email protected]) is managing editor of School Reform News.