I know, I know, it seems like an absurd headline. All those union members alone (not to mention a legislature dominated by Democrats) would appear to make New Jersey one of the least likely jurisdictions to embrace the polarizing issue of private school vouchers.
But the election of Gov. Chris Christie--who promoted school choice throughout his campaign against incumbent Jon Corzine, a Democrat--will at least ensure that vouchers get debated.
Gov. Christie, a Republican, has chosen a well-known crusader for school choice as his education commissioner: Bret Schundler,a former mayor of Jersey City. Tomorrow, as Mr. Schundler is scheduled to appear for his confirmation hearing, the education committee in the Assembly will hear a measure (written by two Democrats!) to set up a school choice program that would allow students to enroll at campuses outside their home districts. This bill doesn’t propose vouchers, but surely gives hope to their backers and could make opponents nervous.
I am reporting a story this week about the likely expansion of a voucher program in Florida, and while talking with John Kirtley, the creator of that state’s tax-credit scholarships for low-income students, he mentioned New Jersey as the next likely place for vouchers and other school choice measures to get serious traction.
In Florida now, voucher programs have strong Democratic backers and Mr. Kirtley believes a similar thawing is bound to happen in other states.
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.