Rough Draft Suggestions for Governor Christie’s Task Force for Education Funding
To be submitted? at Public Hearing Today, Tuesday, August 21 at 3PM at
Civic Hall Camden County Community College,
Blackwood, New Jersey
To:?? Rochelle Hendricks, Chairperson
NJ Education Funding Task Force
c/o Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625
Dear Chairperson Hendricks:
- ?I represent a volunteer organization composed of roughly 200 members who reside mostly in Atlantic and Cape May Counties.??? About 40 to 50 of us meet for breakfast every Saturday morning to discuss how the basic principles of liberty found in the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and New Jersey Constitution can be applied to solve the most pressing problems of state and local government today.
- ?We have been doing this since 2003, and have found that we have consistently identified problems and suggested solutions far better than many highly paid experts and consultants retained by various government agencies to research the issues we address.
- The biggest problem of current public school funding in New Jersey, is that it violates the most basic principles liberty.
- The basic principles of? liberty dictate that each individual should be free to make the most important decisions concerning his or her own life.??? And that government should treat each individual equally.
- In 1844, the people of New Jersey adopted the Constitution that is the foundation of our current Constitution to eliminate the widespread corruption in state and local government that brought about a total financial collapse known as the Panic of 1837.
- In 1844, the people who adopted the new State Constitution understood that the best way to eliminate waste and corruption was to take away from government officials, the power to use laws, taxes and government spending to reward political friends and punish political opponents.?? That is why Article 4, Section 7 of our State Constitutions states that ?No general law shall embrace any provision of a private, special or local character?.?? It is why Article 4, Section 8 of our State Constitution says that the Legislature shall not pass any private, special, or local law relating to taxation or exemption therefrom? or ?providing for the management and control of free public schools?.??? It is why Article 8, Section 4, Paragraph 2 states that ?fund for the support of free public schools. . . . shall be annually appropriated. . . for the equal benefit of all the people of the State?.
- For more than 130 years from the adoption of its new Constitution of 1844, New Jersey was one of the most prosperous, best educated, and least taxed states in the nation.???? This was the state famous inventor Thomas Edison chose to move to.
- In 1975, New Jersey amended the State? Constitution to provide for an income tax.?? However Article VIII, Section I, Paragraph 6 provided that all receipts from that tax must be ?placed in a perpetual fund designated the Property Tax Relief Fund and be annually appropriated, pursuant to formulas established from time to time by the Legislature, to the several counties, municipalities and school districts of this State exclusively for the purpose of reducing or offsetting property taxes?.
- When the income tax was adopted, its proponents claimed that the Property Tax Relief Fund would benefit everyone who paid real estate taxes.??? We believe that if the basic principles of the 1844 and 1947 state constitutions were applied , this fund would be equally distributed to all school districts on a per student basis.
- Distributing the Property Tax Relief Fund using any formula other than equal distribution based on an equal amount for each student guarantees corruption at every level of the political process.?? Any other formula brings ?pay to pay? politics if not outright corruption to every level of government.?? It gives every state ?local, and public school official an incentive to give political and financial support to other politicians in exchange for promises of an increased share of the Property Tax Refund, rather than reasonable considerations based on merit.
- It was exactly this type of pay to play politics and uncontrolled political corruption that caused the financial collapse known as the Panic of 1837 and the constitutional reforms of 1844 to address those problems.
- Any formula that gives additional funds to schools with ?at risk? students, encourages public school officials to maximize the number of ?at risk? students.??? Years ago, my wife was employed as a bilingual kindergarten teacher in the Pleasantville Public Schools.??? Instead of teaching in Spanish, however, she taught the alphabet and various songs in English which allowed many of her students to excel in regular first grade classes.?? This was good for the students, and the parents were extremely pleased.?? However, her supervisors at the school were very unhappy, because they lost funding for bilingual education.
- We are all aware of the abuse that has taken place by using enrollment in the school lunch program as evidence of an ?at risk? student.
- We are not aware of any evidence that increased state funding for Abbott school districts has increased academic performance.??? On the contrary, rewarding bad school officials with more money than good ones seems to encourage worse, not better performance.?? Higher school funding for Abbott Districts has often encouraged unions and administrators to demand and get higher salaries for the same performance.
- If a all school districts received equal funding, poor districts would still have sufficient income to provide a ?thorough and efficient education?.?? At the same time, it would increase funding, and reduce property taxes in suburban districts, and would allow less affluent families in Abbott districts to afford housing in better school districts.
For these reasons, we of Liberty and Prosperity endorse the Fair School Funding Plan of Senator Michael Doherty.?? We believe this plan applies the basic principles of the New Jersey Constitutions of 1844 and 1947, and would increase integrity and performance and reduce costs, waste, and corruption in suburban and urban districts alike.