TRENTON – Senator Shirley K. Turner, D-Mercer and the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, made the following statement after hearing testimony from Assistant Education Commissioner Gordon MacInnes and administrators from several Abbott school districts:
“It is heartening to hear of all the progress that we have made in the Abbott school districts, yet I know that we still have a great deal to do to make sure that every student in New Jersey gets the best education possible, regardless of where they live.
“The districts which met with the Committee today to report their progress discussed the innovative new programs they have developed to give their students the best chance to succeed in school and we encourage them to keep thinking of creative ways to improve their schools and communities.
“Right now, many of our efforts in the Abbott districts are focusing on improving education in the early grades. This is essential work, because the sooner we put our children on the right track, the easier it will be to keep them on track as they get older.
“At the same time, I hope that the Abbott districts will begin to focus more attention on improving the education received at our middle and high schools. We cannot afford to write off the later grades, because our children need more than just a strong foundation – they need the skills and knowledge that are critical to finding success after graduation.
“If we do not endeavor to provide a quality education from pre-K through high school, we will find that too many of our older students will start to fall hopelessly behind. It is when this hopelessness sets in that our children turn to gangs and a dangerous life of crime.
“If there is one thing that we have learned over the last few years of working with the Abbott schools, is that parental involvement is critical to the lasting success of our schools and our children. I hope that we can continue to expand on those programs that bring parents into the classroom and get them involved early in their child’s education.”