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CAN WE TALK ABOUT EDUCATION?

 

      Out of the educational systems of 50 countries, The U.S. was ranked 17th  in the most recent international studies.  Asian and Scandinavian nations claimed the top spots ahead of the U.S.  Top spot went to Finland and South Korea came in second place. According to the education firm Pearson, a study carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), combination of international test results and varies forms of data including literacy rates and graduation rates between 2006 and 2010, results showed that Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively, while the United States was 17th out 50 nations.

Compared to other nations, including the top ranked countries, the U.S. pays more for education per student per year than any other.  Some believe the answer to this problem is to throw more money towards education, I believe that is a futile endeavor. More important than money, “is the level of support for education within the surrounding culture. Although cultural change is inevitably complex, it can be brought about in order to promote better educational outcomes,” say most EIU experts.

The answer has in part to do with the breakdown of the American family and society’s diminishing respect for education and educators. Children today, on average, have less supervision, due to both parents working, divorce and/or single parent households. It’s not about poverty; it’s about responsibility and respect for parents, teachers and the institutions. In some cases, parents are trying to be best friends with their kids, the kids have friends, and they need parents. In countries that outperform the United States, the parents and students take school much more seriously and education is viewed as a privilege

The international study conducted by the education firm Pearson suggested that countries with a greater choice of schools provided better educational outcomes than those that offered fewer choices of schools. “For-profit private education is providing students in some of the least-developed areas of the world an alternative to poor state provision and showing the potential benefits of choice and accountability,” the Pearson study said, adding that “parental pressure on educational institutes for better performance should not be seen as impediments.”

With this in mind, I support a legislative bill in Trenton by assemblyman Bucco of the 25th District titled “New Jersey Parental Rights and Property Tax Reduction Act.” Assemblyman Bucco’s bill gives parents the freedom to place their child in any public or non-public school and the cost of educating the child fallows the student to a school of the parent’s choice up to a caped amount. The district would experience a savings from the capped amount to the current cost of seventeen thousand dollars per student per year. The district would credit a portion of the savings back to property tax reduction. In education as in everything else, competition improves the product and lowers the price.  It is no secret that the largest portion of property taxes in New Jersey is school taxes, due to the unfair redistribution of school tax dollars to other parts of the state. As an example, 59% Vernon’s property taxes are school taxes, while Hopatcong is 53%, Blairstown is 63% and Mount Olive is 68%. While other parts of the state have a much lower burden as Newark is 31% and Camden is only 19% of their property taxes is school taxes. Assemblyman Bucco’s bill helps to reduce our taxes by cutting the largest portion of our property taxes. The reason our property taxes are so high in the first place, is because we are sending our taxes dollars out of our district.

I urge readers to contact their state legislators to co-sponsor Assemblyman Bucco’s Bill “New Jersey Parental Rights and Property Tax Reduction Act.”  Education reform is not a Republican verses Democrat, or union verse non-union issue. Education reform is a realistic view that the system is not only expensive but is also very broken. We deserve better.

 

Bader George Qarmout

Newton, NJ

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