Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed bills that would create task forces to study mandating full-day kindergarten in New Jersey and ways to make college more affordable.
In both cases Christie lauded the intent of the bills, but said the task forces were unnecessary and would duplicate work already being done by state agencies.
The kindergarten bill would have created a 21-member task force to study and evaluate issues associated with having full-day kindergarten in New Jersey. The state currently requires only a half-day program, though about 75 percent of school districts offer a full-day program.
Christie said the state Department of Education Division of Early Childhood Education already works with districts that want to expand to full-day kindergarten, and the decision of whether to offer a full-day program should remain with local boards of education and their constituents.
A representative from the Education Law Center said they were deeply disappointed in the veto, citing compelling evidence that children who attend full-day programs perform better than students in half-day programs.
“In light of the governor’s veto we will redouble our efforts to make full-day kindergarten a reality in all districts,” said Ruth Lowenkron, ELC senior attorney." All children must have the best possible start in school for future success.”
The College Affordability Study Commission bill called for a 10-member task force to study and make recommendations about the rising cost of college, high student debt, college savings plans and student loans. It would also study the creation of an accelerated-degree pilot program, an affordable-degree pilot program, and a Pay It Forward pilot program that would let students attend college for free then pay it back based on a percentage of their salaries after they graduate.
Christie said the issues raised by the commission are already being studied by the Secretary of Higher Education and the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, and some of the programs, including accelerated- and affordable-degree pilot programs, already exist.
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