Better Schools & Lower Taxes


We need to restructure the entire school system, insure safe and well-equipped facilities and expand free public education to include pre-K and college, or an alternative training program that qualifies graduates to work in a useful trade.

For decades, New Jersey lawmakers and governors have failed to address their constitutional obligation to provide a thorough and efficient education to every child in New Jersey but Lisa McCormick will not wait a single day. If school districts have money to spend on multi-million dollar settlements and lawyers, then we can afford to educate every child instead.

We can cut property taxes in half, keep your community involved in every neighborhood school, significantly reduce administrative costs and do a better job impacting the lives of every student by making sense out of our convoluted and corrupt public schools.

It is time to address the problem of failing schools by consolidating the administration of education under state control, ending our reliance on the grossly unfair and antiquated property tax and empowering teacher to do their job well.

Our existing system of free public education can be more efficient, more responsive, more comprehensive and less expensive.

New Jersey has some of the best schools in the nation but the current system has about 600 school districts duplicating effort and in some cases, failing miserably, due to a wide range of challenges that must be addressed intelligently to achieve improvements.

These districts protect a range of unconscionable practices: It is time to end the unacceptable racism tax on residents that preserves obvious racial segregation and the vast duplication of services and redundant administration.

A Bold Education Agenda

“Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don’t need little changes, we need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. Competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be getting six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge for its citizens, just like national defense.”

~Sam Seaborn

Why can a fictional character on television’s The West Wing better articulate the simple truth about education than anyone in the entire ‘real’ world of American politics? This video only suggests the significance of making America smarter:

New Jersey public schools enroll 1,370,000 students: 49% White, 24% Latino, and 16% African American, with 38% living in poverty and 4% learning English.  The state was spending in 2015-16 an average of $19,652 per pupil, which is more than 40 percent of every state and local tax dollar collected, so there is no excuse for the results to be unsatisfactory in so many cases or for such little attention to be paid to the issue during election campaigns.

Increase teacher quality & resource equity

Americans need to value education in proportion to its importance in our society and the global economy. Democrats recognize education as the most pressing economic issue in America’s future, and we cannot allow our country to fall behind in a global economy. We must prepare the next generation for success in college and the workforce, ensuring that American children once again become global leaders in creativity and achievement.

“Teachers should be paid like doctors; their work equates to saving lives,” according to Nicole Campbell, Vice President of Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation. An update in new Jersey’s minimum teacher salary law is long overdue.

New Jersey should require a minimum teacher salary that attracts the best and the brightest to the profession and establish a plan of action that restores the public employee retirement system to sound fiscal condition by taxing the wealthiest residents who benefited from unwise income tax cuts and the repeal of the estate tax.

Educate every child without excuses

High quality early childhood education is the fundamental foundation for a high quality public school system that leads to a well-educated citizenry and talented workforce. Public policy ought to guarantee education that is free and of high quality from the age of three to a college degree.

New Jersey’s Constitution requires the Legislature to ‘provide for the maintenance and support of 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.’ Decisions in Robinson v. Cahill from 1973 to 1976, including New Jersey Supreme Court rulings that held the constitution’s “thorough and efficient” education clause requires equal educational opportunity for all children.

In 1981, plaintiffs filed the landmark Abbott v. Burke school funding case, challenging the state’s failure to adequately fund high poverty, urban school districts. During 30 years of litigation, the New Jersey Supreme Court has issued 21 Abbott rulings, striking down school funding schemes that violated the Legislature’s constitutional duty. Today, segregation and inequitable results show there is no way to fix the current system except completely restructuring the system.

Promote enhanced literacy & learning

In the economic climate we are facing we need a good “offense” strategy; going on the defensive trying to prevent education cuts in austerity budgets will not win the battle.  Education spending really is an investment in national defense.  It’s our most profitable economic stimulus initiative.

From cradle to grave, Americans can benefit from learning so we must make it a bigger part of our culture.

The fact that the body of human knowledge has grown so much, and technology is so much a part of our economy and life, we must expand the breadth of education with a pre-K through college system of free public schools plus a reliably true and accurate flow of information about matters of civic value.

Stop stalling and ‘do the right thing’

New Jersey’s school districts should be consolidated to gather sufficient resources to educate our children for twenty-first century life, eliminate massive duplication in administration and cut property taxes in half.

Home rule does not exist today even as it is used as an excuse for incompetence, but a statewide system can include school-based, elected community boards that put people and principals together in a meaningful way.  It’s been known for 40 years that we need to keep New Jersey’s Constitutional promise to children, but only legislative action will truly turn hard-fought court victories into classroom realities.

Cut property taxes in half

We can cut property taxes in half, keep your community involved in every neighborhood school, significantly reduce administrative costs and do a better job impacting the lives of every student by making sense out of our convoluted and corrupt public schools.

For decades, New Jersey lawmakers and governors have failed to address their constitutional obligation to provide a thorough and efficient education to every child in New Jersey but Lisa McCormick will not wait a single day. If school districts have money to spend on multi-million dollar settlements and lawyers, then we can afford to educate every child instead.

New Jersey has some of the best schools in the nation and a few of the worst.

It is time to address the problem of failing schools by consolidating the administration of education under state control, ending our reliance on the grossly unfair and antiquated property tax and empowering teacher to do their job well.

Selective district takeovers have served to deprive local voters the power to control their public resources but only in communities with predominantly minority residents. It is a stirring reminder that racism is alive in New Jersey.

The current system has about 600 school districts duplicating effort and in some cases, failing miserably, due to a wide range of challenges that must be addressed intelligently to achieve improvements.

We need to restructure the entire school system, insure safe and well-equipped facilities and expand free public education to include pre-K and college, or an alternative training program that qualifies graduates to work in a useful trade. Our existing system of free public education has accomplished many fantastic achievements.

It is also time to stop blaming teachers and trying to undermine their right to union representation, and start trusting them to devise a smart way of educating children facing crisis situations including poverty, violent abuse, or mental health issues and other special needs.

It is also time to recognize that humanity is in possession of more knowledge than ever before so we might need to start with early childhood education and continue until every student is prepared to confront the world as productive citizens.

The property tax would have to be replaced with a broad based source of revenue, but a graduated income tax or other funding source could the same amount of money more fairly and more consistently than the existing finance structure.

Giving more influence to the community could be achieved by electing neighborhood councils to work directly with school principals, instead of tying up school board members with financial and administrative tasks that often spill over into politics or fail to achieve the level of scrutiny they deserve.

A statewide educational administration can also get rid of the silly notion that standardized testing does anything except enrich corporations that produce the tests, and New Jersey can break ground as its own publisher of educational textbooks and other online learning material. Technology has advanced our ability to distribute information, secure and protect devices, communicate with each other and access the entire worldwide body of knowledge. That is why every student should be equipped with an Internet capable tablet or laptop computer for performing school assignments.

Education will always be a labor-intensive task but we can achieve better results by ending our conspicuous reliance on old ideas and arcane ways of doing things. Spending on education is an investment in national security and future prosperity. The very best we can do is the very least we owe the children who are tomorrow’s leaders and our own survival may depend on how smart they become.

Teachers, other educators and parents have every right to be suspicious of education reform because previous advocates have used that as a guise for dismantling collective bargaining rights that properly belong to every worker. However, it is time to let go of ridiculous notions about ‘home rule’ since more than 80 percent of voters chose not to participate in local school elections when they had the chance and many of them knew little except whether they would vote yes or no on the budget. An orderly and fair process for restructuring our schools will rely heavily on the input of professionals in the system and the best minds in academia for guidance on how an appropriate school system should function.

We will be happy to answer any question, so use the comments tool on this page to expand this conversation. No Wall Street billionaire who sent his own kids to private school and has such little respect for the democratic process that he would obscenely try to buy an election is going to be more fair and effective than a proud mother whose candidacy is based on the urgent need for change.

Nobody who lovingly dedicated his or her life to educating our children should trust a greedy financier who spent his life enriching himself while driving 99 percent of the people into poverty. Phil Murphy is Wall Street. Lisa McCormick is one of us!

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