The dialogue in New Jersey is changing

Two recent items from New Jersey have showcased just how the political lines separating support for either vouchers or tax credit scholarships continue to blur.

The first is commentary from Tom Byrne, who served two terms as chairman of New Jersey’s Democratic Party from 1994 to 1997, supporting New Jersey’s proposed Opportunity Scholarship Act. The politics are changing, Byrne says, because “many have come to see school choice as a civil rights issue,” and an increasing number of Democrats don’t believe it weakens traditional public schools:

Saying that it is not fair to leave some kids behind in a public school is a tacit acknowledgement of a serious problem there. If you saw ten people drowning in a lake and knew you could only rescue one or two, would you let them all drown in order to be fair to all victims?  Let’s flip the logic in another direction. Democrats almost all favor affordable housing policies with lotteries that give some people a wonderful new home while leaving others behind. This is so even though the available funds might be better spent making far more existing homes more energy-efficient and lead-free.  A housing lottery that leaves people behind is okay, but an education lottery somehow is not.

The second item is notable for a fact that might escape some readers: A news story from the Bergen Record that quotes only Democratic lawmakers — those who support, and are sponsoring, the proposed Opportunity Scholarship, and those who oppose it.

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BY Adam Emerson

Editor of redefinED, policy and communications guru for Florida education nonprofit

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