It’s an eternally vexing problem in New Jersey: How do you give the children in the state’s largely poor cities as good an education as the kids in middle-class and affluent suburbs?
The three main candidates for governor in Tuesday’s election have different ideas highlighting their plans.
Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine says a major piece of the answer is expanding a program that seems to be working , state-funded preschools for low-income children.
Both his challengers, Republican Chris Christie and Independent Chris Daggett, want to give parents and students more ways out of bad schools, hoping that will pressure them to improve.
By most measures, New Jersey’s school system as a whole is good. On standardized tests that can be used to compare states, students regularly rank consistently at or near the top.
The system is also pricey: Public schools cost more than $16,000 per student in the 2006-07 school year , the last year for which federal data is available. That was the highest price tag in the country, though it also comes in a state where incomes and the cost of living are among the highest.
For all the money, there’s long been a gap between how well students do in the cities and in the suburbs.