A third of the state budget and a lot of property-tax money funds public education in New Jersey. The next governor will decide how that money is spent. Here's what the candidates say they will do.
JON S. CORZINE
K-12 FUNDING: Used federal stimulus funds this year to help meet his new "money follows the child" school funding formula obligations. Said education remains a top priority, but if less money is available next year, he will still use the formula to calculate state aid.
PUBLIC PRESCHOOL: Called it his "single most important education reform" but had to delay expansion this year for lack of funds. Remains committed to providing it to all low-income children.
HIGHER EDUCATION: Supports private/public partnerships to fund college projects as a substitute for state bonds. Supports more financial aid for needy students, and some government oversight of costs and tuition hikes, possibly through a larger role for the Commission on Higher Education.
SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION: Called it essential to reducing costs in education. Touted new law that eliminates small non-operating districts that have school boards and budgets but send all students to other districts.
SCHOOL CHOICE: Supports growth of charter schools. Promoted efforts to streamline approval process. Supports funding facilities when money becomes available.
K-12 EDUCATION: Supports innovation and better use of resources, primarily through expanding charter schools. Supports school-based management of successful schools in failing districts. Wants education funding to come from a recurring revenue resource, which has not yet been identified.
PUBLIC PRESCHOOL: Says preschool is vital to children's development, but opposes Corzine's plan to expand preschool to reach all low-income students. Has not offered an alternative.
HIGHER EDUCATION: Will reinstate program to give state matching funds for private contributions of $1 million or more to state colleges. Will create new Outstanding Scholars scholarship program for high-achieving students. Will ensure expanded tutoring for students in the Educational Opportunity Fund program. Will provide grants to four-year and community colleges to train workers.
SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION: No policy presented.
SCHOOL CHOICE: Would expand the public school choice program to allow more schools to accept children from other districts. Supports rapid expansion and more equitable funding for charter schools and access to federal funds for facilities. Supports a tuition tax-credit scholarship to pay for low-income students in failing schools to attend private or other public schools.
K-12 EDUCATION: Admits school funding formula it is going to be difficult to fund next year and less money could mean a proportional cut in aid. Also supports five-year renewable tenure and more intense supervision of teachers. Would eliminate of the alternative test given to students who fail the high school graduation test, except under very narrow circumstances. Would promote 10 $1 million dollar grants to develop "break the mold" schools.
PUBLIC PRESCHOOL: Believes it has been effective in the urban districts. Would like to preserve and expand it, but not until the state has the funds. Supports a public discussion of expansion rather than just a state mandate.
HIGHER EDUCATION: Says the state has been "disinvesting" in higher education, but admits finding more funding will be a challenge. Would emphasize creating partnerships with business and industry to help fund research and development.
SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION: A waste of time. He said the "poison pill" requiring voters in each district to approve plans almost guarantees any proposal will fail, and the money saved is too small to justify the time and money it will cost to develop the plans.
SCHOOL CHOICE: Supports full funding for charter schools equal to traditional public schools, and would encourage more innovative models involving corporations, colleges and public school conversions. Supports facilities funding. Supports a five-year pilot voucher project that would give businesses corporate tax credits equal to their contributions to a private school scholarship fund for students in 10 urban cities.
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