Public education in New Jersey

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The New Jersey public school system (prekindergarten-grade 12) operates within districts governed by locally elected school boards members and superintendents.

The New Jersey state constitution requires that the state legislature establish and maintain a "thorough and efficient system of free public schools for the instruction of all the children in the State between the ages of five and eighteen years." Additionally, the schools must be free and the legislature must provide "transportation of children within the ages of five to eighteen years inclusive to and from any school."[1]

School revenues, expenditures and budget

See also: New Jersey state budget
New Jersey's education costs are 35% of the state budget

The total state budget for FY 2009 was $33.24 billion, of which education accounts for $11.57 billion, 34.8%.[2] New Jersey faced a $3.6 billion budget gap for FY 2009 and a projected $7.0 billion deficit for FY 2010, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.[3] The governor cut $1.4 billion from the current FY 2009 budget in order to reduce the state's budget shortfall and in May 2009 proposed suspending property-tax rebates in light of declining revenue.[4] In addition, the state voted in 8 new school bonds and 6 new taxes to help fund schools.

The cost per student in New Jersey is $16,491, the second highest in the nation.[5] Recently, Gov. Christie altered the math for cost-per-pupil to include transportation, federal funding, debt payments and legal judgments, which increased the cost to $17,800 per pupil.[6]

Personnel salaries

In the 2009-2010 school year, New Jersey had approximately 112,933 full-time classroom teachers. According to reports by the New Jersey Department of Education, below are the median salaries for the 2008-2009 school year.[7]

  • Administrators and Supervisors: $112,565
  • Classroom Teachers: $57,465
  • Educational Support Services: $70,296
  • District Superintendents: $158,400
  • Principals: $113,769

Role of unions

The main union related to the New Jersey school system is the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA). NJEA is the largest education association in the state. For the 2003 tax period NJEA had: $81.3 million in total revenue, $81.5 million in total expenses and $57.6 million in total assets.[8]

List of local New Jersey school unions:[9]

Role of school boards

The State Board of Education serves as the general planning and coordinating body for public education. The board consists of 13 members appointed by the governor. All members serve six-year terms without compensation. According to New Jersey law the state board must consist of three female members. Additionally, no two members are allowed to be from the same county. The commissioner of education serves as not only the secretary of the board but also as its official agent.[10]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: New Jersey government sector lobbying

The main education government sector lobbying organization is the New Jersey School Boards Association.

Transparency reform

New Jersey currently has no statewide, official spending database online, despite recent attempts to pass legislation that would create a searchable spending database.

Gov. Chris Christie is campaigning for transparency reform in New Jersey schools. His reforms include: merit pay for teachers, re-tooled evaluations of school employees, and more school choice for students. Christie also wants to post teacher evaluations on the Internet.[11]

Reports

A 2009 study, Leaders and Laggards, conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for a Competitive Workplace, Frederick M. Hess of the conservative American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, and the Center for American Progress, gave New Jersey: "A" in academic achievement; "C" in truth in advertising about student proficiency; "C" in rigor of standards; "A" in post-secondary and workforce readiness; "B" in for its teacher workforce policies; "F" in data quality.[12]

Audits

  • On October 13, 2009 a former Atlantic Highlands Board of Education payroll clerk was arraigned in a Monmouth Court after being charged with with taking $11,500 from the school district.[13]
  • A 2009 state audit implicated a special education director at the Branchburg school district of sending special needs children to religious schools and using special needs funds to pay for summer golf lessons for a student that no longer attended New Jersey public schools.[14]

Academic performance

In the 2007-2008 school year, the New Jersey school system had a dropout rate of 1.7% and a graduation rate of 92.8%.[7] Below is a chart that identifies the total number of students enrolled in the New Jersey school system. Additionally, the chart reveals the total number of students that graduated in 2000 through 2008.[15]

Year Total enrolled Total graduated
2007-2008 1,378,630.5[16] 94,808.5[17]
2006-2007 1,387,963[18] 92,601[19]
2005-2006 1,393,781.5[20] 89,858[21]
2004-2005 1,390,825.5[22] 86,445[23]
2003-2004 1,380,881.5[24] 83,632[25]
2002-2003 1,367,249[26] 81,389[27]
2001-2002 1,341,503[28] 78,012.5[29]
2000-2001 1,313,394[30] 76,129.5[31]

State Budget Solutions’ Education Study: “Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working”

State Budget Solutions’ examined national trends in education from 2009-2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates, and average ACT scores. The study shows that states that spend the most do not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor do they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. Download the full report here: Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working.

See National Chart to compare data from all 50 states.

State Spending on Education vs. Academic Performance 2012

State 2011 Total Spending[32] 2011 Education Spending[33] 2011 Percent Education Spending 2012 Total Spending[34] 2012 Education Spending[35] 2012 Percent Education Spending 2010 Avg. ACT score[36] 2011 Avg. ACT score[37] 2012 Avg. ACT score[38] 2010 Graduation Rate[39] 2011 Graduation Rate[40]
New Jersey $100.1 billion $31.9 billion 31.8% $99.6 billion $33.0 billion 33.1% 23.2 23.2 23.4 84.4% 84.6%

School choice

School choice options include:

  • Charter schools: is a public school that operate independently of the local district board of education. Charter schools are managed by a board of trustees, approved by the State Board of Education.[41] In the 2009-2010 school year there were a total of 68 charter schools in the New Jersey school system.[7] In the 2007-2008 school year, according to the Center for Education Reform, New Jersey had approximately 55 public charter schools.[42]
  • Public school open enrollment: the state of New Jersey has an open enrollment policy of interterdistrict, voluntary enrollment. In other words, students are permitted to enroll in any school within their neighborhood school district.[43]
  • Online learning: according to reports, the state of New Jersey does not have a state-wide online learning program. However, it is reported that 23 high schools participate in the Virtual High School Global Consortium.[44]

External links

References

  1. State of New Jersey Constitution,"Article VIII, Section IV," retrieved October 15, 2009
  2. State of New Jersey,"FY 2009 Budget Update," May 15, 2009
  3. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,"State budget troubles worsen," May 18,2009
  4. Gov. Corzine,"State of the State Address 2009," January 13,2009
  5. Maine Watchdog, Education Spending Per Child, July 6, 2010
  6. Wall Street Journal, Christie Alters Schools Math, May 21, 2011
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 New Jersey Department of Education,"New Jersey Public Schools Fact Sheet," retrieved October 15, 2009
  8. Center for Union Facts,"New Jersey Education Association," retrieved October 14, 2009
  9. Center for Union Facts,"New Jersey unions," retrieved October 14, 2009
  10. New Jersey Department of Education,"New Jersey State Board of Education," retrieved October 14, 2009
  11. Idaho Reporter, Christie wants teacher evaluations posted online, Idaho lawmakers don’t (video), Oct. 18, 2010
  12. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute,"New Jersey Education Report Card," retrieved November 17, 2009
  13. Ashbury Park Press,"Ex-Atlantic Highlands district clerk arraigned on theft charges," October 13, 2009
  14. The Reporter,"Protesting state audit, Branchburg residents create stir at school board meeting," October 9, 2009
  15. New Jersey Department of Education,"New Jersey School Surveys, Reports, Data," retrieved October 15, 2009
  16. New Jersey Department of Education,"2007-2008 Enrollment," retrieved October 15, 2009
  17. New Jersey Department of Education,"2007-2008 Graduates," retrieved October 15, 2009
  18. New Jersey Department of Education,"2006-2007 Enrollment," retrieved October 15, 2009
  19. New Jersey Department of Education,"2006-2007 Graduates," retrieved October 15, 2009
  20. New Jersey Department of Education,"2005-2006 Enrollment," retrieved October 15, 2009
  21. New Jersey Department of Education,"2005-2006 Graduates," retrieved October 15, 2009
  22. New Jersey Department of Education,"2004-2005 Enrollment," retrieved October 15, 2009
  23. New Jersey Department of Education,"2004-2005 Graduates," retrieved October 15, 2009
  24. New Jersey Department of Education,"2003-2004 Enrollment," retrieved October 15, 2009
  25. New Jersey Department of Education,"2003-2004 Graduates," retrieved October 15, 2009
  26. New Jersey Department of Education,"2002-2003 Enrollment," retrieved October 15, 2009
  27. New Jersey Department of Education,"2002-2003 Graduates," retrieved October 15, 2009
  28. New Jersey Department of Education,"2001-2002 Enrollment," retrieved October 15, 2009
  29. New Jersey Department of Education,"2001-2002 Graduates," retrieved October 15, 2009
  30. New Jersey Department of Education,"2000-2001 Enrollment," retrieved October 15, 2009
  31. New Jersey Department of Education,"2000-2001 Graduates," retrieved October 15, 2009
  32. USGovernmentSpending.com "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  33. http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/spending_chart_1997_2017ALb_13s1li111mcn_20t USGovernmentSpending.com "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  34. USGovernmentSpending.com "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  35. http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/spending_chart_1997_2017ALb_13s1li111mcn_20t USGovernmentSpending.com "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  36. 2010 ACT National and State Scores "Average Scores by State"
  37. [http://www.act.org/newsroom/data/2011/states.html 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  38. [http://www.act.org/newsroom/data/2011/states.html 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  39. National Center for Education Statistics
  40. National Center for Education Statistics
  41. New Jersey Department of Education,"Charter Schools," retrieved October 15, 2009
  42. The Center for Education Reform,"National Charter School Data," retrieved October 14, 2009
  43. Education Commission of the States,"Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," retrieved October 14, 2009
  44. The Heritage Foundation,"School Choice in New Jersey," retrieved October 14, 2009