(TRENTON) – Combining the expertise of an experienced legislator with the concern and passion of a parent with school-aged children and a veteran educator, Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic) made the following statement Wednesday during the Assembly FY2020 budget hearing at which Commissioner of Education Dr. Lamont O. Repollet and New Jersey Schools Development Authority CEO Lizette Delgado Polanco testified. During his remarks, Assemblyman Wimberly thanked the parents of charter school students, who were in attendance at the hearing, and said:
“As I’ve told people, all students are our students. I don’t care if you’re in public school, charter school, parochial school, whatever it is, they are all our kids. That’s the bottom line.
“There are many arguments in many communities about charters, about parochial funding, but these kids are our kids. Bottom line. If you’re a taxpayer, or you’re paying rent, whatever it may be, your child deserves to learn whatever way you think is best for your child.
“I have four sons, and I’ve been through the parochial route. I’ve been through the private school route. I’ve been through the charter school route, and I was just going to do whatever was best to educate my children. Nobody’s going to tell me or legislate how I educate my children.
“And I’ll say the same to the parents out there, ‘Do what’s best for your children,’ because every child learns differently. Every environment presents a different opportunity for a child. So changing an environment can sometimes change a child’s life. So continue to do that work.”
Regarding the school funding formula and towns paying their fair share in taxes to offset such funding, Wimberly, referring to Paterson which is in his district, added:
“When you talk about the fair share, I can’t go anywhere without saying that for an eight-year period, the city of Paterson had a 54 percent property
tax increase—so that’s beyond a fair share. So when you look at the formula, and you look at the present budget, that’s going to cause 226 people to lose their jobs. That has to be put into consideration, and I’m sure there are other districts that will tell you the same when it comes to property taxes.”