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Poll: Is It Time for State to Surrender Control of Local School Districts?

NJ has been in charge of some local districts for almost 30 years. Has its intervention done any good? It is time to move on?

Gov. Chris Christie late last month announced that the state would take steps to surrender control of Newark public schools after 20 years, and appointed a task force to create a roadmap for the process. At the same time, he appointed former state education commissioner Chris Cerf to serve as the superintendent of schools in the state’s largest district.

The state is now going on 30 years of taking over school districts, starting with Jersey City, and has not yet fully relinquished its powers in any of them. The others falling under the state’s stewardship are Camden and Paterson.

Has state control of schools succeeded over the decades, and what steps should the state take moving forward?

  • It has been an utter failure; schools in all four of those districts are no better than they were before the state moved in, and in some cases they may be worse.

  • There have been some benefits in the state stepping in and getting a handle on the problems, but the gains beyond that have been minimal and relinquishing control should be an immediate priority.

  • It’s not like any of these districts were on a path of recovery without the state’s intervention, but 20 years is a long time. It’s time to let the local communities run their schools.

  • The problems in these districts were severe, and the students were being irreparably harmed. And if those troubles were not being addressed by local leaders, it was imperative for the state to step in.

  • The state should take an even greater role in these districts and elsewhere. Too many schools continue to languish, and it’s the state’s obligation to intervene and help improve them.

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