DFER Statement on NJ Governor Chris Christie's So-Called "Fairness Formula"
June 22, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DFER’s Shavar Jeffries on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s So-Called “Fairness Formula”
Newark, NJ – Following New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s speech on Tuesday calling for an entirely unconstitutional upending of New Jersey’s public education funding protocols, DFER President Shavar Jeffries released the following statement.
“Sadly, the Governor’s proposal plays politics with the educational futures of New Jersey’s public school students and, in so doing, disregards constitutional precedent and basic civil rights protections.
“Every child in this state and across the country deserves access to a high-quality public education, regardless of their background or what zip code they happen to live in. But to help achieve this basic right for all of our public school students, both in traditional and public charter schools, we need the equitable funding policies that Gov. Christie is looking to strip away.
“The Governor’s so-called “Fairness Formula” does nothing more than cut off much needed support to New Jersey’s most vulnerable schoolchildren without regard for their individual needs. For decades, both state and national education law has recognized that different kids need different levels of funding based on their needs, and for 40 years the New Jersey Supreme Court has recognized the extraordinary burdens that concentrated poverty places on the educational destinies of our children. Gov. Christie’s proposal ignores these plain realities in favor of a false equality that wishes away the self-evident differences in the educational environments within which our children learn. The Fairness Formula turns any recognizable conception of fairness on its head, perpetuating the wealth and social inequalities that separate our state’s suburbs and cities. This proposal would consign hundreds of thousands of our state’s children to a financially bankrupt education that would make, for them, the American Dream an empty illusion.
“The Governor’s plan, as such, contravenes the 40-year Abbott precedent, which marked our state as a national leader in educational equality. That decision recognized the inherent inequality in relying on local property taxes for school funding and sought to rectify decades of underinvestment in urban districts with low-income tax bases. Now, the Governor proposes that the state walk away from this longstanding commitment, leaving our under-served urban children largely to fend for themselves.
“In order to deliver on the promise of a high-quality education for all of New Jersey’s students and build on the progress of recent years, we need resources and common-sense reform. We cannot accomplish meaningful change for our kids with one hand tied behind our backs.
“This proposal is something we might expect from Donald Trump. It pits low-income urban communities, predominated by people of color, against middle-class and wealthy communities, predominated by white families, and is the type of poorly considered and racially polarizing tactic that we would expect from Trump. But this is not who we are in New Jersey, and we will work with New Jerseyans across all lines of politics, ideology, culture, and geography to stand firm in support of equity for all of New Jersey’s schools.”
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