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New Jersey Update: Voters Say No to School Budgets
posted by: Colin | April 22, 2010, 02:53 PM   

With 58% of school district voters defeating their local budget, some are declaring at least a partial victory for Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.), including the governor himself who called the election a "watershed moment." Victory or not, New Jersey voters usually approve 70% of school district budgets and this year marks the most budgets defeated since 1976.

After cutting hundreds of millions in school funding from the state budget as part of a plan to close a significant budget gap, Gov. Christie encouraged voters to reject school budgets where teachers did not agree to a one year pay freeze and agreed to contribute 1.5% of their pay to their health care costs (for which they currently pay nothing)—and he insisted the budget not include unreasonable new property taxes (some of the proposed budgets that went down to defeat included 10% property tax increases). The teachers union opposed the governor's plan and instead suggested new taxes to make up for the lost funding. The battle has devolved into accusations, name-calling, death threats, and demands for apologies.

The teachers union is arguing that the voters were using the school budgets as a referendum on Gov. Christie's budget plan, but don't read that too closely, it'll spin you off your chair.

Ultimately we need to be asking the question:
What solution helps the students AND the teachers?

It doesn't appear that the back-and-forth between the NJEA and the governor has resulted in a safer or better position for teachers, schools, or students.

Is your school district facing similar challenges?
What were their solutions?

Comment below.

Read more on the excitement in New Jersey in an earlier AAE blog post:
Midnight in the Garden State of Good and Evil

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