I am completely frustrated with Christie’s campaign but there really is no good alternative to him.
One issue that he hasn’t addressed effectively is school costs in the Abbott districts. Basically, the problem is very simple -- You have school operations and school construction funded by the state and the decisions on spending the money being made by local school boards. So its not surprising that Abbott school spending is out of control and the school construction money is spent on rooftop sports stadiums with Astroturf (Union City).
Let’s look at some of the massive waste. The administrative cost on the 2007-2008 school report card for Newark was $1,567 per pupil. This was more than 15% higher than the state average. And, because Newark is a larger system, it should have certain economies of scale that would enable it to have a lower than average cost. But it doesn't.
And, its costs for support services (attendance and social work, health services, guidance office, child study team, library and other educational media) were more than $4,000 per pupil, about twice the state average. How can this legitimately occur?
Then it costs $2,600 per student for buildings and maintenance. This is more than $1,000 higher than the state average.
And, then you have an issue with respect to just how many students Newark has. Average attendance at 2 Newark High Schools was 83%. Let's put it this way. Attendance of 90% means that a student has missed 18 days during the year. Attendance at 83% means that the average student has missed 30 days during the year.
My guess is that this extremely low attendance results from many students simply having dropped out but being kept on the attendance rolls because its big money. Its disadvantageous for Newark to drop a student from the rolls because of funding. So they keep the student on the rolls to keep the money. Should the state pay funding for a student who is missing class more than one out of every five days? This is absurd.
So, what can Chris Christie do? He can start blasting the ridiculous costs of Abbott funding and say that vouchers will correct this. If you give the parents a choice to send their children to a private school, and this will save the state substantial money, then why not do it? Otherwise, you are just operating the government for the benefit of some corrupt insiders in Newark and other Abbott districts.