(WEST ORANGE, OCTOBER 4) - Republican Gubernatorial Nominee Bret Schundler issued the following statement Thursday afternoon after his participation in a forum on school choice and charter schools at the Rutgers University Cook College Campus:
“For too long, the debate over education funding has been focused on the wrong priority -- we’ve been focusing on HOW MUCH is going to be spent, rather than on who’s going to DECIDE where the money will be spent. Democrats want GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRATS to make those decisions; Republicans want PARENTS to make those decisions.
“If we’re going to be serious about education, we’ve got to fundamentally change the way those decisions are made. We CAN get better schooling for our kids, while spending less money -- but ONLY if we take power away from bureaucrats and put it back in the hands of parents, where it belongs.
“Toward that end, we must support charter schools. And on that front, the latest results are in, and the news is good - charter schools are performing better than regular public schools. Earlier this week, the New Jersey Department of Education released an official report showing that charter schools -- which feature smaller class sizes, active parental involvement, and programs better tailored to the needs of students -- contributed to better academic performance. And not only do charter schools perform better than traditional public schools, they do so at a fraction of the cost.
“This report clearly indicates that we should expand the number of charter schools. But in addition to approving more charter schools, I believe the next Governor has an obligation to see what he can do to make sure our traditional public schools operate more like these charter schools.
“Today I spoke about taking power away from politicians and putting it in the hands of parents. That is what school choice is all about. We know that if parents are empowered to choose the educational program in which they will enroll their child, they will choose the one that best meets the educational needs of their child. I don’t believe that only wealthy parents should be able to choose what is best for their child -- I believe ALL parents, regardless of economic means, should have this power.
“I have made specific proposals to reform education so that parents can have more educational options even as we improve our public schools. Jim McGreevey isn’t willing to take on the powerful special interests opposed to reforming our education system -- but I will not allow ANY special interest group, no matter how powerful, to keep me from doing what is right for our children.”