School choice energized by VA & NJ elections

(CCU Faculty) Last November, New Jersey and Virginia, two states with Democratic Governors, elected Republicans to replace them. In Virginia, it was an open seat, while in New Jersey, the incumbent John Corzine was defeated.

As the administrations of Governor Christie of New Jersey and Governor McDonnell of Virginia begin to take shape, there is great hope for education reform from these new Republican governors. Each Governor-elect has picked a supporter of school choice plans to head his department of education.

In Virginia, Gerard Robinson has been selected to serve as the next Secretary of Education. Robinson has been serving as the Director of the nonprofit Black Alliance for Education Options (BAEO). Seeking widespread reforms, the BAEO’s mission statement emphasizes that they seek to: “increase access to high-quality educational options for Black children by actively supporting parental choice policies and programs that empower low-income and working-class Black families.”

In New Jersey, Governor Christie has named former Jersey City Mayor and two-time candidate for Governor Bret Schundler to be his education commissioner. As mayor and candidate, Schundler has been a vocal advocate for education reforms, including support for school vouchers, charter schools and merit pay for public school teachers.

Representatives from the teachers’ unions in New Jersey are quoted in the New York Times, stating that Bret Schundler is “the antithesis of everything we hold sacred about public education.” The nomination of neither Robinson nor Schundler to head these state education departments would have occurred had the democratic candidates succeeded last November. Teachers’ unions have based their support for democratic candidates on opposition to vouchers, charter schools and school choice.

Hopefully, these republican administrations will be able to implement real school reform in these states by allowing citizens to make choices about the schools their children attend. School choice plans that give parents and their children options encourage competition, which in turn demands improvements in quality, while at the same time seek reductions in cost.

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