Pam's Latest Op-Eds

February 2012 Newsletter Excerpt: Gender Wage Gap Hurts Women, NJ’s Economy

By Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt

For nearly 20 years, Lilly Ledbetter went to work as a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire plant in Alabama. She worked hard. She played by the rules. She did her job.

And yet, over two decades, she was paid less than male supervisors who performed substantially similar work. In an act repugnant to the spirit of America, she was continually discriminated against during her career. She was paid less because she was a woman.

When she sued Goodyear, the U.S. Supreme Court held that her claim wasn’t timely, a legal technicality because she hadn’t discovered the pay discrimination and sued within the statute of limitations. Legislation was quickly introduced in Congress to correct this technicality.

And so, three years ago, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama said of that very first piece of legislation in his administration: “You see, an economy built to last is one where we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country. That means women should earn equal pay for equal work.”

What a simple concept: a woman should earn equal pay for equal work. And yet, pay equity and the wage gap continue to be a serious problem both nationally and here in New Jersey, despite the Ledbetter Act and federal measures barring pay discrimination going back as early as 1963.

A 2010 report from the U.S. Census Bureau reported that for every dollar a man earned, a woman earned only 77 cents for equal work production.

Why We Don’t Support Regis Academy’s Plan

By Senator James Beach, Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt

When it comes to education, our state has reached a critical crossroads.

Far too many children in New Jersey are trapped in chronically failing schools. Far too many of our kids are denied a true shot at opportunity, at breaking the cycle of poverty, simply because they grew up in the wrong ZIP code. One thing is clear: we can and must do better.

That’s why we have supported innovative ideas and new approaches to student learning, like charter schools, to help give children in chronically-failing schools the tools they need to succeed. When New Jersey began to allow charter schools, the focus of the debate was on assisting these children, who are some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens. We believe the goal of charter schools should be to help those kids who need it most, rather than approving charter schools in some of our highest performing and successful school districts.

Unfortunately, though, Regis Academy’s plan to create a charter school in Cherry Hill misses the mark.

In its current form, Regis Academy would draw students from Cherry Hill, Voorhees, Lawnside and Somerdale. Given the importance of funding our public schools and the 2% cap on property tax growth, the approval of charter schools in higher performing districts like Cherry Hill and Voorhees would result in undue hardship—both to students and taxpayers.

Op-ed: Women's Health Care Must Be A Critical, Bipartisan Priority

Courier Post
By Pamela Lampitt
July 17, 2010

Each day, New Jersey's women's health care clinics deliver critical health care services to the people of our state, people who in many cases cannot afford health insurance and have nowhere else to turn. The single mother who gets screened for breast cancer. The young pregnant woman who gets prenatal care for her baby. Countless young people who do the right thing by getting tested for HIV. The elderly woman who is checked for diabetes. There are many more.

Indeed, these clinics served more than 136,000 patients last year alone. Often, they delivered crucial preventive health care in the form of various tests and screenings that helped save lives.

Because of these important preventive health services, they also saved the state money. Last year, the savings totaled more than $150 million, over twenty times the $7.5 million investment the state made in these services.

Unfortunately, Gov. Chris Christie's budget eliminated this $7.5 million in funding, putting many working poor and middle class families in danger of losing critically needed health care. Under the governor's budget, many women who cannot afford to purchase basic health care will have no options. They may have to skip screenings for cervical cancer until it's too late. They may decide not to get their blood pressure checked, or miss out on neonatal care for their newborn infants. And they absolutely will be left to rely on the ER for even the most basic of treatments.

Protect Kids Through Education

Courier-Post
August 30, 2009
By Pamela Lampitt

Today’s teenagers face new problems completely unfamiliar to their parents. As new technology has emerged, our children now have instant access to worldwide communication – and its associated hazards.

One of the recent problems that has perplexed parents, educators and law enforcement alike is the practice of “sexting” – the sending of sexually explicit photos via the Internet or, more commonly, through cell phones.

Cell phones and computers are standard equipment for teens, each equipped with cameras and messaging capabilities. Yet young people rarely understand and appreciate the potential life changing consequences of misusing this technology.

According to a recent survey, roughly one-in-five teens – including 11 percent of girls aged 13 to 16 – have sent a nude or semi-nude picture or video of themselves to friends or posted one on a Web site. Ultimately, these private pictures see the light of day and have serious ramifications. These teens can quickly become social pariahs, outcasts, and if under age 18, can be arrested for child pornography.

In New Jersey, a 14-year-old girl faces jail and registration under Megan’s Law after posting nude pictures of herself on MySpace. Tragically an Ohio teen committed suicide after pictures she sent to her boyfriend were forwarded to her entire school. One horrific story comes from Wisconsin, where teen boys were blackmailed into performing sexual acts on a male classmate who, posing as a girl, duped them into sending him nude photos.

NJ STARS Program Will Still Shine Brightly

Bergen Record
December 31, 2008
By Pamela Lampitt

In just a few years, NJ STARS has been wildly successful — almost too much so.

Over the past decade, New Jersey has faced a real problem — "brain drain." Many of our top students, the cream of our academic crop, have been leaving the state in droves, deciding to attend colleges in neighboring Pennsylvania, Delaware or New York, if not even farther out of state.

The Garden State was left with two choices: act, or watch even more students put down roots in other states.

It was with this problem in mind that the Legislature established the NJ STARS program.

Created in 2004, NJ STARS gives our best and brightest students merit scholarships to cover tuition at New Jersey's county colleges, with the opportunity to work toward a bachelor's degree from one of the state's four-year public colleges if they continue to achieve academically.

Top 20 percent

Currently, students must rank in the top 20 percent of their high school class and maintain a 3.0 grade point average throughout their college studies to be eligible for a STARS scholarship. This truly is an opportunity-focused program, with merit-based aid to students kicking in only after a student has exhausted all options for need-based aid.