March 28, 2010

THE GOP'S PLUS-SIZE MODEL:

Christie backs school choice plan: Students in underperforming public schools would get money to attend private school under a proposed bill the governor favors. (Adrienne Lu, 3/28/10, Philadelphia Inquirer)

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D., Union) and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R., Union) are proposing a five-year pilot program, roughly modeled on a similar program in Pennsylvania, under which low-income students in "chronically failing" public schools would be able to apply for scholarships to attend private schools, including parochial schools, or other public schools. The scholarships would be funded by private corporations, who would in turn receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits.

The program, which has been proposed for introduction in the Legislature, defines chronically failing public schools as those where, for the past two years, 40 percent or more of students scored "partially proficient" - the lowest score possible - in both language arts and math, or 65 percent or more of students scored partially proficient in either subject.

Two hundred and five public schools statewide (including charter schools) - or 8 percent - meet the criteria, including 24 in Camden, 42 in Newark, and 25 in Paterson. A handful of schools in Burlington and Gloucester Counties also meet the criteria.

The bill also would establish a competitive grant process, through which any of the so-called chronically failing public schools could compete for grants funded by the state.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 28, 2010 7:23 AM
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