In November, New Jersey citizens walked into the voting booths to place their vote for the governor following Chris Christie, who was ineligible for reelection after two terms. With 55.64% of the vote, Democratic candidate Philip D. Murphy was chosen over Republican Kim Guadagno. Alongside Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, Murphy will lead New Jersey for at least the next four years.
As a former Wall Street banker, Phil Murphy has no experience in office. In relation to the current political scene, Murphy stands against President Trump’s policies, unlike Christie who supported Trump throughout his 2016 presidential campaign. Murphy’s victory was pivotal for the Democratic party, bringing an end to the reign of Governor Christie. After the election, New Jersey has become the seventh state in the nation where Democrats control the legislative and executive branches.
Like any other politician, it may be difficult for Murphy to deliver on his numerous promises. Mr. Murphy promotes liberal causes, including a $15 dollar minimum wage and the legalization of marijuana. This will be a major shift in New Jersey’s reputation, as they have elected moderate governors in the past. Murphy mentioned that, “this is the first major election since Donald Trump was elected.” He continued, saying that the state has sent a message to the country, “we are better than this,” in regards to the Trump administration. The next New Jersey governor will stand strong against the President while embracing unions, gun control, and raising taxes on the wealthy.
In connection to our own community of Ridgewood, a few summers ago, the State Board of Education made the PARCC tests a requirement for New Jersey graduation in public schools. As most RHS students are aware, the majority of eligible students refuse to take the test. Certain educational experts agree that tests such as the PARCC are not helpful for students and seem to be outdated. The test has been criticized for taking time away from valuable class lessons. During his campaign for governor, Governor-Elect Murphy stated, “High stakes, high stress standardized tests must end.” He plans on removing the graduation requirement of taking the PARCC test. Instead, Murphy wants to work with the state Department of Education and create a new assessment that could meet the federal reporting requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Although Murphy believes these tests should not be eliminated altogether, he emphasizes the state should not be overly reliant on them.
“We don’t get New Jersey right unless we get our economy right, and we don’t get our economy right unless we get education right,” Murphy stated in relation to the importance of public schools, himself a graduate of public schooling. He concluded that the public schools of New Jersey are what make the state great but has stressed that past state leaders spent money to help large corporations instead of students. Murphy wants to work with educators to use money in the correct way and create an education system that will help children succeed.
As the Democrats have reclaimed their spot in New Jersey government, citizens look forward to seeing how Phil Murphy will govern. We hope he will positively impact the education system and help each student recognize their full potential.
Graphic: Anika Tsapatsaris