It was most gratifying to attend the launching of TEACH NJS, at Congregation Rinat Yisroel in Teaneck, organized by the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, to activate the Jewish community on behalf of New Jersey legislation in support of nonpublic schools. It was very encouraging to see hundreds of concerned individuals come together to commit to this vital cause.
This comes at a most opportune time for New Jersey, when all 80 Assembly seats are up for election. We have a five-month window of opportunity to prevail on our elected officials to restore the constitutional mandate to secure “the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.” New Jersey is the first to have a universal school choice bill — the NJ Parental Rights and Property Tax Reduction Act (S1606/A1785). This would empower all New Jersey parents to send their children to quality schools for about one-third the cost of defective public schools.
Unlike all other bills to help nonpublic schools, which together provide less than five percent of the cost of tuition, this bill provides enough to cover the full tuition at some low cost religious schools. Additionally, this bill does not add a single dollar to New Jersey’s state budget; it even reduces property taxes. The bill diverts the state education funds, from a consistently failing system, to provide every K-12 student in the state with an Educational Savings Account (ESA), to serve as a debit card to pay for educational services, public and nonpublic. The bill is also designed to annually increase the value of the ESA, based on half the savings accrued from children leaving high cost public schools for low cost nonpublic schools. The remaining savings is allocated to reduce property taxes.
Undoubtedly, the Jewish community is most suited to lead the way. By just devoting several minutes per day to this critical issue, we will surely be worthy of Hashem’s boundless blessings that will result from restoring liberty and equity to educational funding.