Home>Campaigns>Following Murphy’s universal preschool promise, Dems criticize years-old Ciattarelli op-ed

Former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Following Murphy’s universal preschool promise, Dems criticize years-old Ciattarelli op-ed

In response, Republican nominee proposes expanded, privatized Pre-K system

By Joey Fox, September 16 2021 5:03 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy’s promise this morning to achieve universal pre-kindergarten in New Jersey quickly became a political cudgel, with the Democratic State Committee (NJDSC) releasing a statement excoriating Republican gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli for an op-ed he wrote in 2018.

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“We cannot afford, nor do we need to ‘fully fund pre-K,’” Ciattarelli wrote in the Nj.com op-ed focusing on the expense of Murphy’s campaign promises. “[W]e simply need means-testing and fairer distribution of current funding.”

In their statement, Democrats chose to interpret the quote as a preemptive attack on Murphy’s universal Pre-K proposal – delivered nearly four years before the proposal was unveiled.

“Jack Ciattarelli is so out-of-touch that he doesn’t want to invest in our most important asset – our children,” said Saily Avelenda, the executive director of the NJDSC. “This is just another example of Assemblyman Ciattarelli playing to his extreme Republican base by refusing to support Governor Murphy’s commitment to providing universal preschool.”

Responding to the attack, Ciattarelli campaign spokeswoman Stami Williams said that Ciattarelli supports expanding the state’s preschool system, but disagreed with having the system be entirely state-run.

“Jack has always been a supporter of expanded Pre-K,” Williams said. “He believes universal Pre-K is best delivered directly by Department of Children and Families-licensed community for-profit/not-for-profit childcare center providers, or in public-private partnership with the education community.”

Ciattarelli himself expanded on his proposal at a press conference earlier today, saying that though Murphy’s proposal was not “dead on arrival,” it relied too much on the existing public school system.

“We just would do [Pre-K expansion] in a common-sense, conservative way,” Ciattarelli said of his prospective administration. “I’m all for creating a voucher system, for which people would be eligible based on their income levels. They would take that voucher, and send their child to private Pre-K, as opposed to making it a part of our public school system.”

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