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Capital Plan

New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey has unveiled a 20-point education plan in which raising teacher quality plays a pivotal role in improving education for the state's 1.3 million public school students.

The plan, announced at an "education summit" in Trenton on Sept. 17, represents the broadest blueprint for school improvement to date from the Democratic governor, who took office in January.

Gov. James E. McGreevey

He proposed requiring all teachers be certified in their subject-matter areas, and increasing the passing scores on certification tests. Uniform standards would be adopted in teacher-preparation programs at four-year colleges, and alternative-preparation programs would be streamlined to allow quicker completion.

In addition to a major early-literacy campaign, which is already under way, Gov. McGreevey proposes a variety of measures on student learning, including enhanced education in technology and character, and new tests in 3rd and 4th grades to measure student progress in mathematics and reading.

The state, which currently runs the Jersey City, Paterson, and Newark school districts, must have more tools at its disposal to intervene in other troubled districts, the governor added.

To that end, he proposed amending the school takeover law to enable the state to intervene earlier, when problems have not yet become severe, and then release such districts to local control more quickly.

The New Jersey Education Association, which backed Mr. McGreevey's election a year ago, had little good to say about the plan. The union, an affiliate of the National Education Association, contends the proposal wouldn't do enough to reduce teacher turnover or decrease class sizes, and says it is heavy with "old ideas" that had never received state funding.

The union argues that some of Mr. McGreevey's proposals are "simply bad ideas," such as a plan to let high school seniors test out of some required classes.

"At a time when education reform calls for providing more coursework, why would the administration want to diminish or even eliminate an entire year of high school?" NJEA President Edithe Fulton said in a statement.

—Catherine Gewertz

Vol. 22, Issue 5, Page 17

Published in Print: October 2, 2002, as State Journal

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