School voucher plan gains traction in New Jersey

New Jersey is moving closer to enacting a limited school voucher program.

Legislative committees in the state Senate and Assembly have approved a pilot program that would give tax credits to corporations for providing scholarship money to low-income public school students so they could go to a private school.

La Salle University provost Joe Marbach said the concept has been championed by Republicans for about a decade.

“It’s coming down to questions of achievement levels in some of our urban school districts and poorer schools districts and the whole notion of offering choice is starting to take root,” Marbach said.

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Supporters of school vouchers have been pushing for about a decade to get New Jersey to approve them.

Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison said the idea is gaining traction now because of support from some Democrats in the Legislature.

“Even though these Democrats may not want to essentially take money out of public schools and hand it over to private entities, it looks as if right now there is very little option, particularly when you look at the success that schools relying on school vouchers have had,” she said.

Harrison anticipates some form of a voucher program will be included in the next state budget.

The measure still faces a vote in the full legislature.

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