FREEHOLD – Keeping the issue of education reform in full focus, Gov. Chris Christie sounded more fired up than usual today, pointing out what he said is an excessive amount of taxpayer funds in urban school districts that produce few graduates.
He said at a town hall here that state education spending has increased more than 500 percent since 1985, from $1.7 billion to $8.8 billion.
However, the increasing amounts spent per pupil, especially in the state’s largest urban districts, have failed to bring graduation rates anywhere close to the state average of 83 percent, he told his audience. He gave a rundown of the six largest districts, and how much is spent per student and the graduation rate, from the 2009-10 school year.
*Newark – $23,000 spent per student; graduation rate, 32 percent
*Asbury Park – $29,819; 24.3 percent graduation rate.
*Trenton – $21,000; 22 percent graduation rate
*Camden – $22,700; 21 percent graduation rate
*Jersey City – $21,800; 41 percent graduation rate.
*Paterson – $25,000; 31 percent graduation rate.
He said these districts need more competition in the form of providing vouchers to students and putting in place charter schools with longer school days.
“We need to change the system completely,” he said.
He pointed out the Asbury Park school system, where less than half of 12th-graders are reading at an eighth-grade level.
“It’s an obscene waste of money,” he said.