Hope for School Choice Alive in New Jersey

avi schnallby Shimmy Blum. Students of Shalom Torah Center in Manalapan, NJ, gathered on Tuesday for a special luncheon to highlight the importance of school choice during the designated “National School Choice Week.”

The event, sponsored by the Agudath Israel New Jersey Office, was headlined by Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, who represents Manalapan and co-sponsored the Opportunity Scholarship Act school choice legislation; Rabbi Avi Schnall, Director of Agudath Israel of New Jersey; and Leon Goldenberg, member of the Board of Trustees of Agudath Israel of America.

The sight of all the students, who receive a stellar religious and secular studies education in a nonpublic school, gathering on behalf of school choice brought to life the benefits of empowering parents to make the best choice in their children’s education. Assemblywoman Handlin shared that her own children learned in Jewish private schools and what a privilege that was for the entire family. She stressed how much of a strong impression it can make on legislators when young children rally on behalf of a public policy cause, and encouraged the students to remain engaged in governmental and community affairs.

New Jersey is a Democratic state with a powerful teachers union, and the prospects of implementing school choice appear bleak, but Rabbi Schnall offered a ray of hope. He cited the story of Basya, who stretched her hand out to retrieve Moshe even though he appeared to be unreachable. “When a child cries out for help, you stretch out your hand and Hashem performs a miracle,” Rabbi Schnall summed up, expressing hope for a similar miracle on behalf of New Jersey’s children.

Mr. Goldenberg elaborated upon the importance of both adults and children remaining politically engaged in order to influence public policy on school choice and other important issues. When parents hear from their children about a school event like this luncheon, it encourages them to become more politically active as well. “Never underestimate the power you have,” said Mr. Goldenberg.

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  1. If there was ever a time that we had a chance at school choice, it’s now. I think it’s a mistake to do this at the state level.

    It shoud be done at the federal level nationally because we have a president, incoming education secretary and majorities in both houses of congress who are all pro-school choice. The incoming education secretary is not just pro school choice – she is one of its most ardent backers! Agudah and the OU should have this as their number 1 objective for the next four years – taking precedent to anything else. This would help every last frum family (most of whom struggle to pay tuition).

    I was quite surprised that Agudah did not just focus their entire convention on this. Seriously. This is an issue that will help every single yid in the whole US!!

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