Move to end N.J. school takeovers faces veto from Christie

New Jersey Assembly Democrats discuss their proposal to end the stat's authority to take over school districts. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

New Jersey Assembly Democrats discuss their proposal to end the stat's authority to take over school districts. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Democrats in the New Jersey Assembly have introduced a measure to end the state’s authority to take over school districts. If the legislature becomes law, districts now under state management would return to local control within a year.

Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly said Tuesday that state takeover of schools districts is a failed policy.

“Children have seen negligible improvement or even dramatic setbacks in their educational performances,” said Wimberly, D-Paterson. “Teachers and staff face high turnover and instability, creating a disruptive learning environment for our children.”

Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, D-Essex, said she believes state-appointed superintendents in the takeover districts have done a worse job in fiscal management and educational outcomes.

“Instead of moving these districts forward, state intervention has made these districts regress,” she said during a Statehouse news conference in Trenton.

Newark schools haven’t made much progress under state control. said Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker, D-Essex.

“We have elected boards that have no say-so. It’s just like having taxation without representation,” she said. “We want our local control back in our schools because we can do a better job than what the state has been doing over the past 20 years.”

If the Legislature passes the measure to eliminate state takeovers, Gov. Chris Christie said he’ll veto it.

“It’s not a good idea. The only reason those school districts are state-run school districts are because they’ve been abject failures for the people who live there,” he said.

The Education Law Center has claimed the Christie administration is using its authority to take over school districts to bring about charter school expansion and merit pay for teachers.

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