Memory lapse: “New Jersey’s Shame”

It’s a bit tricky offering commentary on a newspaper’s editorial. After all, editorials express the “views” of the media outlet’s editors and publishers. But even opinion pieces should strive for consistency.

Here's my “op-ed” to a recent Sunday New York Times editorial: “New Jersey’s Shame”.

A brief recap: NYT editorialized on the widening income gap between the rich and the poor in New Jersey, and it credited the state for pouring money into poor school districts. It further opined that “a state like New Jersey, with the second highest median income in the nation, has a moral obligation to see that all students get a solid education.” The editorial recognized the fiscal pressures to reduce aid to poor districts and weighed in against it.

The premise sounds as basic as A, B, C. The problem is something we'll categorize as "editorial memory recall" (EMR).

To shed some light on the subject, let’s review The Times editorial published October 15, 2006: “Crunch Time on Property Taxes”. In it, the editorial highlighted the state’s highest in the nation median housing costs which are tied directly to high property taxes. The editorial even quotes an expert who characterized New Jersey as having “an expenditure problem, not a tax problem.”

After sorting out the state’s painful dilemma, The Times editorial raised the subject of school funding.

Here’s what they had to say last fall.

“At an average of about $11,500 per pupil each year, school spending is higher than in any other state, and it may have to come down. So too may the high rate of spending for schools in Newark, Jersey City and more than 25 other poor municipalities designated as special needs districts. These districts, which are supposed to receive the same amount of public money as the state’s highest-spending districts, receive more than $14,000 per student.”

I'm confused, is NYT, for or against trimming school aid?

Are expenditures (school aid) or taxes (property) Jersey’s problem?

Editorials are opinions. But these opinions also seek to inform and advocate for social and political policy outcomes. It that sense, editors should strive for consistency.

Memory lapse: “New Jersey’s Shame”