TRENTON, N.J., Feb. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A New Jersey Assembly committee will vote today on legislation that, if passed, will provide more educational opportunities for low-income children than most states in the nation.
The bipartisan Opportunity Scholarship Act, which cleared a key Senate committee vote earlier this month, will be considered by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee at 1:30 PM in Committee Room 9 of the State House Annex in Trenton.
The Act would create a program that would allow low-income children who attend chronically failing schools in 13 pilot districts the opportunity to attend private schools, or out of district public schools that participate in the program, using corporate-funded scholarships. The program, which includes rigorous nondiscrimination and accountability provisions for scholarship providers and schools, is expected to be cost-neutral to the state and could rescue 40,000 children by its fifth year.
Supporters, including the Black Minister's Council of New Jersey and civil rights leaders across the state, said this week that the Opportunity Scholarship Act is one of the last remaining options for a state that spends record amounts of money on education but still confines children to more than 150 failing schools.
"It is beyond criminal to imprison children in schools that continue to fail, year after year, and our state owes these children the opportunity not just to have a better future—but in many cases, a future at all," said Derrell Bradford, executive director of Excellent Education for Everyone (E3), a statewide school choice group. "We must stop looking at education reform through the lens of protecting adult interests, and start leading by doing what's best for children each time, and every time, we have a chance to. The Opportunity Scholarship Act does that."
Research demonstrates that school choice programs across the nation overwhelmingly benefit low-income children, yield higher graduation rates, dramatically improve parental satisfaction in schools, and save taxpayer dollars. If the Opportunity Scholarship Act is passed, New Jersey will join 12 other states (and the District of Columbia) that offer private school choice programs. There are 20 such programs serving nearly 200,000 children across the country.
SOURCE E3: Excellent Education for Everyone