The Governor's office late Tuesday afternoon released the report of the Study Commission on New Jersey Nonpublic Schools.
In a nutshell, the report supports nonpublic schools.
An example: The commission was co-chaired by Assemblyman Gary Schaer and included Senator Robert Singer, both sponsors of the Opportunity Scholarship Act. The report recommends that "some form of corporate tax scholarships" be enacted and even mentions the scholarship bills as an example.
With the state so short on funds, those bills have been having a tough time getting support. Maybe this will give them a nudge.
Other recommendations of the report are:
_ Tax credits for parents who send their children to nonpublic schools;
_ A tax credit program for scholarships for special needs students.
_ Increased funding for nonpublic transportation, nursing services and technology.
The report reiterates one of the nonpublic schools' favorite arguments that the state saves $2.7 billion on the almost 160,000 children who attend nonpublic schools and if the private schools close it would raise costs and over-burden the public system. That is somewhat true, but also a broad generalization. Many public schools could easily absorb extra students at little additional cost.
The 25-member study commission is made up almost exclusively of representatives of private and parochial schools, and you can't blame them for looking out for their own interests. The report stresses that all children are residents of the state and deserve support. It notes that not all children do well in public schools and they deserve other choices.
The Commission makes some valid points about nonpublic schools. But the deck was so stacked in their favor that it's difficult to treat the report as an unbiased review.
Click here for the full report.