Doria – Unreasonable Federal Mandates And Misplaced Special Ed. Priorities Hurt Funding Reform Prospects

TRENTON – Senator Joseph V. Doria, D-Hudson, a member of the joint legislative panel reviewing school funding reform, issued the following statement on today’s hearing regarding federal education mandates and special education:

“Today’s hearing showcased the continued resistance that unfounded federal mandates and misplaced special education priorities provide to establishing real school funding reform.

“Education has long been a State obligation, but when the federal government got involved with ‘No Child Left Behind,’ they failed to provide the resources, or even a standard in measuring achievement, to meet the arbitrary educational benchmarks outlined in their program. The lack of availability and timeliness of national testing and education models keeps state’s in a continuing race against the Invisible Man to meet imaginary educational goals that aren’t rooted in real testing data.

“We’ve also seen a shift nationally towards more expensive special education, as class sizes boom, and more kids are wrongly put into the structured special ed. curriculum. Over-identification of behavioral problems and over-reliance on private special education schools, which only serve to segregate special needs students, are to blame.

“With unfunded, unnecessary federal mandates and special education driving up the cost of educating our kids, school funding formula reform becomes that much more difficult. As we seek a solution which will stabilize property taxes in New Jersey, we’re going to have to find a way to reconcile these added costs with the needs of our State’s taxpayers.”