Hold N.J. pols accountable for their efforts on education

With all due respect, it is my belief that the editorial in the July 19 News Transcript may have again caused confusion to some, and misguided others. The nature of the News Transcript editorial on April 26 was to inform the public that in voting down your local school budget a message would be sent to the governor and the other elected officials in Trenton of your displeasure in paying higher property taxes to finance K-12 education.

The second point in the article was, and I paraphrase, that voting down the school budget may in fact not result in a lower tax assessment, because the local municipal government may or may not reduce the proposed school budget.

What message is the editor sending to citizens who receive his unsolicited local paper? In the first editorial of April 26, he is expressing his opinion that a defeat of the school budget is a valid vehicle to accomplish a restructuring of the school funding problem and property tax relief. This is accomplished by way of the fact that the politicians in Trenton will stand up and take notice and react.

It is my belief that the message promoted by the editor has no credibility and lacks a factual basis. The only message conveyed in the school budget and election process that has any factual basis is that less than 10 percent of the registered voters exercise their constitutional right. It is my belief that the only fact to attract their attention is of the lack of involvement as it pertains to education. Why this is true can be witnessed by their lack of financial support for our children’s education.

If they took notice of the need for change by the 10 percent voting public they would make it a real priority to address and complete their task to reform the education funding issue, for they would want to capture that vote. I could be wrong in my assumption, but this error would be premised on the position, that on its face is unthinkable, that being, the Trenton politician does not know or cares not to know much about the public education of our children, because his or her own child/children are enrolled in private educational institutions. How many of our elected officials in the state and federal governments have children enrolled in public education, including higher education? This is a thought I put forth to this editor and his staff to investigate, and why private over public.

Now in the July 19 editorial, the editor takes issue with the defeated and restored Freehold Borough School Dis-trict budget. In big bold print to catch the reader’s attention [is the headline] “Your vote doesn’t count.” There clearly is an underlying theme that a citizen voice “vote” is not respected or honored in Trenton politics.

But what is absent in the editorial is the fact that by law, the commissioner of education has the right and responsibility to review the defeated budget to ensure that children in said district are receiving a thorough and efficient education. The Legislature has given the commissioner the directive and the responsibility to be an advocate for our children’s educational requirements and needs. I again must emphasize “educational requirements and needs,” not as an advocate for the citizens’ tax wishes.

What we must never lose sight of are the needs and requirements of our children as they pertain to their educational requirements to meet the demands of our country and society. Let’s just take a brief journey through our state’s past political accomplishments.

Trenton has not adequately funded the maintenance and repair of our bridges according to federal and state guidelines. Many of our most traveled bridges are neglected and in need immediate repair. While calling for and promoting higher salaries and benefits for state and public employees, they have made conscious, deliberate decisions not to properly fund said initiatives.

They have proposed a bill to sell the toll roads to a private enterprise. They have taken the state’s motor vehicle department and privatized it. This was done to correct the problems and streamline the system. They could not come to workable solution, so they handed it off. The citizens’ confidence as to the state’s auto inspection was non-existent when under direct state management. Today the politicians are presenting a bill to relax some of the inspection requirements It is expressed by the politicians in Trenton that by relaxation of said requirements tax dollars can be saved. What about saving lives and preventing injury? Just when you through it was safe to trust the [motor vehicle department] guess what? The politicians in Trenton are back at the DMV. Compare it to “Jaws” and “Jaws II.” Just when you thought it was safe to come back.

In higher education our state is ranked 48th in student aid. They have then commissioned a think tank consulting firm to investigate what if any consequences such lack of aid has on our state and their citizens. The result reported “more of our higher achievers are seeking schools out of state and not returning to this state after graduation.”

This is what some call a brain drain. What a surprise! What did this report cost the taxpayers? Probably more or as much as paying the advertising agency to come up with a new state theme. It is obvious from the preceding examples that New Jersey’s first casualty caused by this brain drain can be demonstrated with our elected officials in Trenton. The Trenton politician of today places more importance on the next election and in raising a war chest than properly educating and funding our children’s and young adults’ educational requirements.

Before the election they are seen promoting education standing next to a child and his dog. But after the election the child is given to foster care and the dog to the ASPCA. As my father would always say to me in reply to my childhood request for him to loan me some money, “I will write it on ice.”

We must not allow the politicians in Trenton to write our children’s future on ice. They must be made accountable for their failures, for their accomplishments, and their lack thereof. Vote, and as Mayor Daley is credited with saying, “Vote and vote often.” Your votes do count, make it a priority to vote. Make it a priority to write and call your elected officials to tell them your child is entitled to have the educational tools necessary to compete in this global economy. The state must devote their resources to this end, and if they can not get it accomplished, they do not deserve your vote.

James R. Mumolie

Past President


Regional School District

Board of Education