N.J. Has Right Education Idea

Published January 6, 2011

New York parents have a tough pill to swallow in Scott Waldman’s piece about college readiness (“Data on college readiness not encouraging,” Dec 30). Three-quarters of the community college applicant pool fails to achieve even the lowest standards for enrollment. Sobering figures like these illustrate the need for major education reform at the K-12 level.

New Jersey has proposed one policy that seems to make more sense than any of the current education policy fads. It addresses the one problem that layers of bureaucracy can’t: It gives parents a real stake in their child’s education.

The Parent Trigger, as introduced recently in New Jersey, would allow a simple majority of parents in a school to petition for one of three reforms: (1) bringing in new school leadership, (2) converting their school into a charter school, or (3) offering all the students a voucher so they may use the money that would have been spent on public school at a different institution.

While the individual components all pack a punch and have been empirically proven to increase student achievement, the impact of empowering parents and holding schools directly accountable to them is immeasurable.

Marc Oestreich