By Assemblyman Troy Singleton
My parents taught me to believe a quality education is the most important factor in harnessing my potential in life.
And every study I’ve read on the topic of public education shows that children prepared to meet life’s challenges academically and professionally will achieve a higher level of financial success than those who don’t.
What concerns me is that there is an entire generation of New Jersey children who are not receiving the type of quality public education that we would find acceptable for our own children.
Finding the solution is not the sole responsibility of the current educational establishment; some factors that contribute to this dire situation are simply out of the control of school officials. We must all work together on the new approach necessary to reverse this trend and take back control of our public education system.
We must pursue an approach that is both bold and aggressive, with an eye towards fostering real and permanent change among our state’s chronically-failing schools.
That is why I am a strong supporter of the proposed Opportunity Scholarship Act (OSA), now under consideration in the state Legislature. The OSA would use corporate tax credits to transfer low-income students from failing schools into public or parochial schools with a track record of success.
Our educational foundation must be steeped in the principle that every child, regardless of zip code, should be afforded the tools necessary to succeed. Adhering to this principle however, can be particularly daunting in some segments of our society where significant outside factors, such as crime, family strife and lack of nutrition, have a severe impact on the education of our children.
The OSA, as well as other strategic programs to enhance the educational opportunities of our children, is the answer. In passing the OSA, we must step outside of our pre-conceived notions and work toward our common goal of providing the best education for our children who are falling through the cracks, year after year.
It is the duty of our society to provide for the proper educational framework in which all children, and those responsible for their instruction, have the means to successfully meet the mission. My support for OSA does not undermine my commitment to ensuring that our public school system continues to improve for all students.
I don’t believe that the success of our public and private education systems need be mutually exclusive objectives. We must devote the attention and resources it takes to ensure that both options are able to prepare our children to meet the demands of a competitive job market and global economy.
That is why I am committed to ensuring that all children have that same opportunity to succeed. As we continue to strive to enhance our education system for all children, we have to consider tools such as the OSA to save as many students as we can along the way in pursuit of that goal.
Over this “lame-duck session” of the state Legislature, I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle recognize the critical importance of the OSA and why it needs to be signed into law now.
Our children simply can no longer afford to wait.
The author represents the 7th district in the New Jersey State Assembly