Property taxes in New Jersey are just way too high. Everyone agrees that is true.
It costs a lot of money to maintain an unjust state. That's what I'm finding as I traverse NJ as the Green Party candidate for governor. Our state is tiny, yet we insist on keeping a multitude of school districts, each one an enclave of particularity that follows the same borders as our economically and often racially divided towns.
I'm all about small towns maintaining their own specific identities, but I think a lot of what we maintain, when it comes to schools, makes life pitifully less diverse for all our state's youth than they should be while, at the same time, simultaneously driving up the cost of property taxes (and therefore rent as well).
In the end, schools that remind us of an Apartheid-era mentality are expensive to maintain as well as just morally a disgrace. Let's stop this in NJ.
Let's examine our schools.
New Jersey has less than 600 towns but more than 600 school districts. Florida has 73 districts. Such a high number of districts means we maintain our enclaves of racial and socio-economic class division when it comes to our schools. Our schools should not have the same boundaries as our towns. The cost of housing in different towns already segregates us enough--this must not follow suit into education.
While there are shining examples of diversity in schools in NJ the vast majority of districts seems to demonstrate that Plessy Vs. Ferguson (separate but equal), rather than Brown Vs. Board of Education, is the law of the land.
Unless the future of all children, of all races and classes, are inextricably linked, we have a 'less than' society. And, the cost of maintaining 600+ districts, with little consolidation of resources and services, is just way too high--especially for smaller towns.
Many small towns complain about the dribble of financial assistance that comes from the state while Abbott Districts get more help.
Here's the solution. Drive down the cost of public education in smaller towns not by making the teacher's union out to be greedy thieves (like the Christie Administration tried to do) but rather by addressing the systemic racism that is so present in our system through our enclave-school districting reality. You want costs to go down? Wed yourselves to other districts, including Abbott Districts.
Around the country school districts are growing in size, and education standards are not slipping. Around the country school districts actually look like Ruby Bridges took that frightening walk, at age 6, to attend an all-white elementary school in 1960 to break the color-line.
If elected governor I commit to having honest and careful conversations about redistricting, starting immediately, to come up with a plan to diversify our school districts, to maintain high academic expectations, and to drive down the cost to tax payers. Being One is a better way to go.
Green Party Candidate for Governor