As the school year comes to a close for students across New Jersey it is easy to set aside concerns over the safety and well-being of our state’s students and instead focus on the joy and freedom of summer.
But tonight marks an important milestone for more than 150,000 New Jersey school children lawmakers consider legislation that will allocate a record amount of funding for the safety of non-public school children.
Without this necessary funding – which even at the unprecedented level the legislature will consider tonight amounts to just half what is allocated to public school students for security – our state’s non-public school students remain at risk.
One need only look at recent headlines from Orlando and even more recently Germany to understand that as divisiveness in our world grows, we become less safe. No one wants to go through life afraid of the next attack, however, only through vigilance can we ensure our safety and that of our children.
The funding earmarked for our non-public schools will promote that vigilance by providing for equipment such as alarms, communications services and card access readers and services such as security guards to aid our schools in providing the safe and secure learning environment all students deserve.
Globally, attacks on an in both public and private schools are on the rise. With that backdrop in mind it is imperative that we provide all schools with necessary funding to keep our children safe. Both New York and Pennsylvania now provide funding for security in non-public schools and New Jersey should follow suit.
In addition to basic security, the budget under consideration tonight provides our non-public schools with other necessities of school life. In it, the legislature has provided funding for school nurses as well as basic technology. The funding will mean schools will be provided with more hours of nursing staff on premises for our student’s health and well-being and our children will have basic necessities such as computers on which to learn.
While most of the state’s non-public school students attend religious institutions of one faith or another, this is not an issue of religion. It is an issue of basic necessity.
We respectfully ask that this budget be passed and signed into law as it brings great benefit to our children. By agreeing to allocate this money to private schools our state can send the signal loudly and clearly that the lives and needs of all students are equal, no matter what school they attend.
–Josh Pruzansky is the New Jersey Regional Director for the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center-Teach NJS.