A wealth of choices in New Jersey's public schools

Published on Thursday, February 06, 2014

Vocational-technical school student

by NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer

February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month, so this is the perfect time to highlight the great work that New Jersey’s county colleges and vocational and technical schools are doing. Across the state, hundreds of thousands of high school and college-age students receive high-quality preparation for whatever comes next, whether that is a job or more education.

In the February issue of the NJEA Review, you can learn more about efforts to promote CTE in this article.

It’s a good reminder that our schools educate students with a wide range of needs and interests, and we need to provide opportunities for all of them to succeed. As important as it is to set high standards and live up to them, it’s also important to remember that our students are individuals who need different resources to thrive and succeed.

Fortunately, New Jersey offers a rich menu of choices for families looking for the best public school fit for their children’s specific needs and interests, and not just at vocational and technical schools and county colleges. Charter schools, district magnet schools, and the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program also help supplement the high qual¬ity offerings in our traditional public schools and four-year colleges and universities.

Privatization, usually presented as a way to bring innovation and choice, too often ends up hurting the very children and communities it is purported to help.

The success of New Jersey’s wide range of public school options is one of the reasons NJEA has taken such a strong stand against efforts to undermine public education through privatization schemes and taxpayer-funded vouchers. Vouchers don’t work, and they drain precious and limited resources away from public schools and the students who rely on them. That’s why they’ve been roundly and regularly rejected in New Jersey.

And privatization, usually presented as a way to bring innovation and choice, too often ends up hurting the very children and communities it is purported to help by treating students as profit centers rather than individuals in need of a great education.

New Jersey parents are eager for their children to attend great public schools, and we can never stop working to strengthen and improve our public schools. Our successful county vo-cational/technical schools and county colleges are one example of how we are doing just that.

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