Letters to the Editor

School Board Hypocrisy: Vote on Charters, Not Our Budgets


Our democracy is a representative one: informed representatives selected by voters resolve issues on our behalf. With few exceptions, New Jersey voters do not get to micromanage government by popular referendum at the ballot box. The most notable exception is the annual rite of school budget elections held each April. This is one of the few instances where voters have some say on how our school districts raise and spend taxpayer dollars.
Opponents of public charter schools are wasting obscene amounts of our taxpayer funds on lobbyists, lawyers, and political advisors to fight public charter schools. Their mission: preserve the current education establishment and ways of doing business, by preventing parents from creating better and more innovative educational opportunities in their towns with public charter schools.
The teachers’ union and school boards across the state have scared parents and teachers with the mantra that public charter schools are robbing their districts of revenues.  They want taxpayers to believe that public charter schools are to blame for reductions and layoffs. They prefer to vilify charters and avoid responsibility for the real reforms and tough choices we need to make.
Public charter school opponents struck a popular nerve when their lobbyists and consultants began to push for local voter approval of charter schools last year. Proposed bill A1877 would make New Jersey the first to require a voter referendum as a primary means for approving a new public charter application or allowing the expansion of existing public charter schools. Their argument: voters should have a direct say in the establishment of charter schools; to do otherwise is taxation without representation, they say. 
Ironically, the same education establishment that is advocating for voter approval of public charter schools just successfully advocated to take away our right to vote on “their” school budgets.  Until this year, voters in New Jersey voted on their local school budget in a special spring election along with board members. This changed in 2012, when legislators passed A4394 / S3148 giving boards and citizens the option to move school board elections to the general election in November to generate more voter turnout and reduce election costs.
The law also provides that if school elections are moved to November, school budgets are no longer subject to voter approval, unless they seek more than a two percent increase over the year prior. School boards making this move thus eliminate the ability for the general public to approve or reject the annual school budget. In fact, within a month of the law’s adoption, over 400 of New Jersey’s 538 school boards switched to a November election to avoid budget votes.  So how many of those school boards screaming for voter choice on charters recognized the hypocrisy of eliminating voter choice on their entire district budget? Shamefully few.
The fact of the matter is voter choice on charters is bad policy.  The reality: whenever a charter threatens “their” turf and “their” budget, school boards and unions, among the best-funded special interests in the state, will campaign against the charter, effectively stopping the spread of parent-led, innovative education options that improve districts, poor and wealthy alike.
Requiring a public referendum on public charter schools is not in the best interest of our students or the general public. Whether a charter is appropriate, and whether a particular proposal is well thought out and deserving of funding, are decisions best made by education professionals, giving due consideration to local community support and concerns, but ultimately doing what is in children's best interests.
Put the creation, approval, management and oversight of public charter schools in the hands of those who know education best – nonpartisan and independent authorizing bodies who can ensure that each and every school is fulfilling its promise to students across the state. All public school students should receive equal access to resources, closing the funding gap between traditional public and public charter schools, which spend 10 to as much as 27 percent less than traditional districts.
A money-driven charter referendum process dominated by teachers unions and traditional school boards protecting their turf is not the type of education reform New Jersey needs. Over two-thirds of our school boards took their own budgets off the ballot as soon as they had the chance. Those that did should be ashamed of the hypocrisy they are teaching our children.

Paul Josephson is a Trustee of the Princeton Charter School and the Chair of the State Bar Association’s Administrative Law Section.  The views expressed are his and not those of either organization.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Evolve Cycle And Fitness Presale Happening Now!

May 18, 2018

CALDWELL, NJ - Evolve Cycle and Fitness is now offering 10 classes for only $90. That’s only $9 a class when you purchase before its official Grand Opening on Friday, June 1, 2018. 

Only two weeks left to take advantage of this limited time offer! Call Martha at 973-979-5919 or click here to sign up.

Evolve Cycle and Fitness is a Premier Fitness Boutique ...

Save Up To 20% at CNP Treasures

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Are you still looking for the perfect gift for your mom or that special someone in your life for Mother's Day? Then CNP Treasures has you covered! Save up to 20% at CNP Treasures located at 14 Northfield Ave in West Orange.

Come by this weekend so we can help you find the perfect gift! Offer expires Sunday, May ...

Upcoming Events

Mon, May 21, 1:30 PM

Livingston Public Library, Livingston

Monday at the Movies: VICTORIA AND ABDUL

Arts & Entertainment


Thu, May 24, 6:30 PM

Heritage Middle School , Livingston

Livingston Public Schools Presents: 6th to 7th ...



Thu, May 24, 7:00 PM

Livingston Public Library, Livingston

Understanding Hearing Loss

Health & Wellness

Montclair HS Student Reported Sexual Assault in All-Gender Bathroom, Officials Say

May 17, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ - According to published reports on Wednesday, Montclair Police officials are investigating allegations of sexual assault reported to have occurred in a bathroom at Montclair High School.

Montclair police officials state that officers received a report about an incident at the high school of a sexual nature that occurred around 3:18 p.m. on Monday. The ...

Still Time to Register for Livingston's Fall Intown Soccer

May 14, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Although a late fee may be applied as of May 13, registration is still open for the Fall 2018 Intown Soccer season in Livingston, including the high school co-ed program.

Livingston Soccer Club's (LSC) Intown program is all about sportsmanship, making friends, getting some exercise and learning a bit about soccer along the way. LSC provides the following ...

Funnel Cloud Appears over South Plainfield

May 16, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - A line of heavy thunderstorms roared through South Plainfield on Tuesday evening with a resident capturing a funnel cloud twisting down west and north of Spring Lake Park. The photo captures the funnel cloud, which can be seen in the left-hand side of the photo above.

The photo also captures a school bus driving by, and the South Plainfield Volunteer Fire ...

Please Sponsor Livingston's 82nd Annual Fourth of July Celebration!

May 7, 2018

Dear Livingston Friends:

Fourth of July always brings plenty of family activities for our entire town: the auto show, rides, swim contests, children’s entertainment, food provided by Dinosaur BBQ and others, Beer & Wine Café with live music, Main Stage show featuring Livingston’s own Epic Soul, and our Township’s always fabulous fireworks spectacular.

As a ...

Avenging Movie Credits

Warning! Nothing you read here will spoil Avengers: Infinity Wars because I didn’t understand it.

As a vibrant, relevant, totally hip and “with it” dad I am proud to say that I have now seen every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  All nineteen of them.

I am less proud to admit that, of those Marvel movies that I can remember, I didn’t understand any of ...