What Will 15,000 Kids Do? Christie Cuts After School Funding

Before New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s meteoric rise into the national spotlight in the GOP presidential candidate race — from which, after a lot of flip-flopping, he withdrew himself — he and New Jersey legislators sparred fiercely, and bitterly, over the state budget. Back in the summer, Christie got his way with a long list of cuts to programs for women’s health, mental health, children and adults with disabilities, and more; 4,000 police officers — many in the state’s crime-ridden capital, Trenton — lost their jobs. The decisiveness with which Christie axed programs and jobs was untrammeled, and quite in contrast to his lollygagging about whether he would enter the GOP race or not.

Now, an after school program for as many as 15,000 low-income children will be closing next week. Three months ago, Christie eliminated all the state funding for the private, nonprofit agency known as NJ After 3. Since 2004, NJ After 3 — which is located in New Brunswick, home of New Jersey’s state university, Rutgers —  has given grants to nonprofits including boys and girls clubs and YWCAs for local after school programs  In 2007, the program had received a high of $15 million that dwindled down to $3 million last year.

Democrats had tried to restore funding for the program in the summer, only to be pretty much beaten down by Christie.  Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, a Democrat who represents Essex County, said allowing the agency to close is an outright tragedy:

“This program has kept children safe and away from gangs and other ill-advised activities. It improved student achievement. It helped working families. It was the best kind of public-private partnership.

“We can’t discuss improving educational outcomes for at-risk children without investing the resources to supplement what happens during the school day.”

NJ After 3′s founding President, Mark Valli, said the agency had simply not been able to raise enough money. The after school programs that remain in New Jersey are struggling to survive, having had to cut enrollment, raise fees and eliminate programs such as arts enrichment.

Not funding after school programs for low-income children was, says Christie, just one of those “tough decisions” a governor has to make:

“We had to make a lot of very difficult decisions and I think programs like that that can be funded through private funds should be encouraged to do so during very difficult tough economic times. That may not have been a choice that I would have otherwise made if we weren’t confronted with the difficult times we’re confronted with, but we are, and so I have to make a lot of very difficult decisions.”

In issuing his budget cuts, Christie had talked about “shared sacrifice” (for some of us, I guess — what about that millionaire’s tax he has twice vetoed?). He has been winning accolades for his “mix of conciliation and civil disagreement” about the Occupy Wall Street protesters. While noting that he doesn’t “happen to agree with a lot of the solutions the Occupy Wall Street guys have,” Christie says he feels their pain; that, indeed, he gets their pain:

“…what I will tell you is, I understand why they’re angry. ‘Cause you look what’s happening in Washington D.C. and it should disgust all of us.”

Looking at what’s been happening in my own state’s capital, it goes without saying that I for one am feeling rather disgusted.

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Chuck D.
Chuck D.6 years ago

Figures that not long after I praised Christie for rescinding that tax credit to the producers of Jersey Shore, he'd go and do something like this...sucks for the kids of NJ!

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Kimberlee W.
Kimberlee W6 years ago

Just had a friend write me to show me a gov't memo that was received by her offices. Apparently, if you cannot afford to live in NJ and need to move to somewhere cheaper in Rockland, NY or PA, then you're too poor to WORK in NJ. They're callin' all the dogs home. Live here or don't work here.
Shame of it is she's been an NJ state employee for 30 yrs. and with her husband's recent job demise, she may not be able to afford to stay in the state.
She has no idea what will happen to her pension.
SCREW CHRISTIE, THAT SONOFABITCH! Thank God I left that nasty state!

John T.
John T6 years ago

The Republican agenda should be evident. Cut off funding for after school programs and make one parent quit their job. This frees up jobs for others.
The IDEAL Republican lifestyle is one from the 1950s. No legal abortions, divorce only on proof, mothers at home waiting on the children and Dad to get off from school / work.
The Republican rant against Pelosi had more to do with her gender than her politics. It wasn't that she was incompetent; it's that she was a SHE. The rabidity of the assault had more to do with how effective SHE was.

Frances C.
Frances C6 years ago

Don't ask Christie about it. It's none of your business! Understand! It's none of your business! Your child may go to underfunded schools. Too bad! My kids go to private schools. I can afford it. I make $176,000 a year plus great benefits, including health care, paid for by the taxpayers. So it's none of your business. "I won't tell you where to send your kids to school, so don't tell me where to send my kids." I don't care if you poor, middle class people have bad schools, so don't ask me questions.

Some T.
Some T.6 years ago

It isn't simply keeping kids out of gangs that make after-school programs important and effective. We don't learn just from the classroom. The after-school programs provide additional opportunities for education, most important for the children who are least ready for sitting still at a desk for six hours a day. Giving them something better to do than join gangs is good, too.

Andrew Carvin
Andrew Carvin6 years ago

@Mercedes L. "Well it's pretty clear that Christie wants kids in gangs, so they can be rounded up and incarcerated in the privatized prisons that his buddies own. Then his buddies will prevail on the judges that they bought and paid for to throw the harshest possible penalties at the kids. They'll make a juicy profit on that!"


I would not be surprised at all that is actually what's going on word for word.

The Republicans' destructive social policies ENSURE there will be UNESCESSARRY SUFFERING AND DEATH.

The Republicans dehumanize their victims like rapists, and use evil social policy to callously murder the non-rich.

The Republicans know this, and actively CHOOSE to cause UNESCESSARRY SUFFERING AND DEATH.

A vote for the Republican party might as well be rape and murder by proxy.

The Democrats on the other hand have made good on some of their promises despite Republican barriers, and continue to advocate for the middle/poor classes against the Republicans' wishes.


Patrick F.
Patrick f6 years ago

Maybe with all that spare time, they could go and b and e Chrustie's house....

J C Bro
J C Brou6 years ago

Oh my! let the kids go and be de-educated!

Patrick F.
Patrick f6 years ago

Not surprising, Christie is a dumbass.