AUDIO> Historic Atlantic City Referendum, School Vouchers

This is a historic Atlantic City referendum. AC is the first New Jersey town to put school voucher scholarships on the ballot. See

#ChoiceAC makes the transformative proposal to provide annual scholarships to Atlantic City children of up-to $10,000 to attend the school of their choice. Not only does this expand educational opportunity to all children regardless of their family’s income, this bold proposal also achieves incredible savings for taxpayers.

The Atlantic City school district spends $27,000 per student per year. Each child opting for a $10,000 voucher would save taxpayers at least $17,000. #ChoiceAC lowers the cost of education and expands options.

#ChoiceAC also has the pleasant side-effect of stimulating Atlantic City home sales.

Atlantic City is within the foreclosure capital of the country. We would be the first New Jersey town to offer voucher scholarships, giving us a competitive advantage to attract families to buy one of the growing numbers of vacant homes in our city.

Listen to Jesse Kurtz talk about school choice on The Kevin Hall Show Program

As people learn about this innovative local idea, they’re excited about the possibilities. Will Atlantic City make history on November 8?

Atlantic City residents can vote to keep families locked into a system where 14% of the high school students test proficient in math, 27% proficient in English:
Atlantic City, a school district that despite spending over $26,000/student, has the 7th worst graduation rate in the state of New Jersey of 67.2%:

From Jesse >


A lack of satisfaction. A lack of attractive and appropriate options. This is the plight of many Atlantic City parents whose local public school is not the best fit for their child, but is the only option they can afford.

Escaping bullying, nurturing a child’s talents, addressing developmental needs and expressing one’s faith are just some of the reasons why parents decide that they need to make a change and choose a school outside of their neighborhood. Many of us would do just about anything to ensure that our children receive an education that gives them a brighter future than we have. What happens when a parent is unable to afford the school choice they want most for their child? Those parents feel trapped with their lack of choices.

Expanding school choices empowers parents. The idea that parents, regardless of their finances, can seek out and use a voucher to pay for the school that is the best fit for their child is empowering. No longer will finances be a barrier to a child attending the school of their dreams. Parents would be able to choose which school best matches their child’s innate talents and developmental needs and the money follows the child. The future of Atlantic City children becomes more promising when families of all income levels have the ability to send their children to the school of their choice.

Atlantic City schools spend approximately $27,000(!) per student per year. At a time when people are struggling and the Taj Mahal is closing, the public schools increased their tax rate 8 percent (city, county, library and open space did not increase their tax rates), forcing a 17 percent increase on taxpayers in the third quarter tax bill. Every student in the public school system who opts for a voucher will save taxpayers approximately $17,000.

Atlantic City has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. When couples decide to embark on the great adventure of starting a family, they often look to one of Atlantic City’s surrounding communities, rather than Atlantic City, because of their bad impression (deserved or not) of the school system. These families do not think to buy one of the growing number of vacant and foreclosed homes in our community because of the schools. How does Atlantic City attract these families? Through school vouchers and tax credits for home schooling families.

A community cannot survive if families do not live in it and pass down their traditions, building roots while contributing to the civic life of the community. Many of the families whose parents work in Atlantic City, but live outside of the city, would be incentivized to live in the city due to the expanded educational options that vouchers and homeschool tax credits represent. I already see a small level of choice among some of my friends who exercise interdistrict school choice, sending their children to Richmond Avenue and Chelsea Heights Schools, public schools outside of their neighborhood. I applaud their choices and involvement with their children and hope to expand their options. Parents are the primary educators of their children whether they educate their children or delegate that responsibility to a private or public school.

The #ChoiceAC school voucher proposal offers a $10,000 annual scholarship per school-aged child to any family that decides a private school is the best fit for their child. A tax credit would be offered (rather than a direct voucher payment) for homeschooling families. The tax credit assists with the cost of purchasing curricula and supplies and helps compensate for the lost wages of the teaching parent(s). Here a little help goes a long way, making Atlantic City an attractive destination for these families around the region to relocate and call home. This powerful school choice proposal would help our struggling children, revive home sales, raise property values and reverse the outward migration trend of families.

This is Atlantic City, where everyone receives a special deal, such as PILOTs, tax breaks and corporate welfare, except for hard-working families and their children. That changes starting with a ‘yes’ vote on choice in Atlantic City in November.

Jesse O. Kurtz is the 6th Ward councilman of Atlantic City and a member of the New Jersey Education Association.

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