New Jersey is one of the states with the best education records in the nation. It is in the urban districts, where a mixture of poverty and cultural factors has produced a deficit in learning and a large number of children dropping out of the school systems. The school boards are often controlled by the local political machines and these are often more interested in retaining control than en enhancing the educational experience.
Broken families are also more likely to abound in economically distressed urban areas. Single parents are less likely to be able to adequately support their children in home-work and other learning activities.
My education reform page will record my thoughts as my knowledge on the subject of education expands and develops. But I have identified two main directions where I believe we should concentrate our efforts.
The first is the consolidation of all school districts into one state-wide board of education, under the authority of the N.J. Department of Education. This measure not only will divert considerable resources now used to cover administrative costs into actual teaching. It will also the make the curricula uniform for the entire state, with the most advanced schools used as common denominator. This centralization will also rend the Abbott ruling moot. All schools will have equal funding.
The second thrust is in the lengthening of both school day and year in those districts where there are deficiencies. This must start from the lower grades up.
Freeing resources in step one will help cover the additional costs in the second.
The current education reform undertaken by governor Christie puts all the onus on educators and essentially ignores the issue of poverty and family breakdown. Of course, a republican addressing the fundamental issue of poverty would be in denial of the entire philosophy of its own party today. However, in the log run, we must address those issues. Still, in the short term, where the family is failing in supporting the learning process of a child, the school must have access to that child for a longer period of time to bridge the gaps.