Everyone who follows politics is keenly aware of the lapses in decorum during President Obama’s State of the Union Address. Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-SC) shouted, “You lie” during a point on healthcare, while New Jersey’s own Justice Samuel Alito mouthing the words “Not true” to a reference on a court decision concerning election contributions.
Last week, the New Jersey Senate took it a step farther. During State Senator Michael Doherty’s (R-Warren) remarks on the Senate Floor, he observed that New Jersey was spending too much money on education in the urban areas. It was at that point that Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) called out “that’s not true.”
Now what is not known about Senator Lesniak, is that it is rumored that he was a one time sparring partner of Gerry Cooney, who once fought Mohammed Ali. Now I really don’t know what that has to do with a discussion on Educational Funding, but it certainly adds a bit of spice to an otherwise boring issue. Boring? Yeah. Because no matter what the legislature comes up with, it won’t matter because the seven folks in the black robes will change it to suit their liking anyway.
So. the battle should not be Doherty v Lesniak, it should be the NJ Supremes v the NJ Constitution. But, alas, it will never be, because once you put on that robe, it seems the constitution goes out the window.
Anyway, Senator Dick Codey (D-Essex) was forced to separate the two during the ensuing “discussion.” As the old saying goes, “might makes right.” Doherty, a former West Point boxer, Army officer and war veteran was ahead on point going into the closing rounds of this title bout. But, it was not to be.
In reading about the event, I began pondering what bothered me more; Senator Lesniak’s violation of Senate decorum, or his irrational view on urban education spending. Let’s face it, when 60% of all education funding goes to only 30 districts and 40% goes to the other 540, it is hard to argue against Senator Doherty’s point of view.
Due to a series of self-serving Abbott decisions, motivated by political correctness run amok, New Jersey Supreme Court has forced us to pour billions of dollars into 31 urban school districts, most of which are absymal failures. The result of this excessive spending has been failing urban school districts and the highest property taxes in the nation.
As I wrote once before. All we are doing in these districts by throwing more money into the same rat holes is to be rewarding failure. Is it any wonder kids think it’s ok to fail. That’s the biggest lesson they’re learning here. No matter how bad the system is, they will still get funded. Something is very wrong with this picture.
When Congressman Leonard Lance was in the New Jersey Senate, he would often use the phrase “55 – 21.” In other words, 55% of the State’s education funds were being spent on only 21% of the students. By 2006, the numbers were 58% of the money going to 23% of the students.
In 2009, the Court approved Governor Corzine’s State Funding Reform Act. Theoretically, the money goes to students who meet certain criteria, not specific districts. In reality, we have 31 Abbott districts, plus a few pockets. The result is that 60% of the funds are now spent on only 20% of our students and we still have mostly failing urban school districts.
So who is right? In this case, facts make right and Doherty wins. The might part will have to wait until we can get the ring set up in the Senate Chambers. Hmmm, I wonder how much NJ could get per ticket to such an event. Pay per view? Might just solve a budget issue or two. Ah, were it to be so simple. But, we can dream.