The legislature of the
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)
considered a comprehensive voucher program in 1996-1997.
The public schools on the islands suffer from many of
the problems that afflict public schools on the mainland.
They are overcrowded and generally unsatisfactory. Many
parents living near the worst schools have misrepresented
where they live in order to avoid sending their children
to those schools. There are no teachers unions, and
support for school choice is nearly unanimous. Current
school board policy mandates that students are to be
bused to a particular school district. Students are
not allowed to attend schools in districts other than
where they reside.
The CNMI public
school system consists of 15 campuses of learning for
school-age children from the age of 6 to 18. Of these
campuses, 11 are elementary and six are secondary (grades
7-12). Kindergarten is offered. Two new schools--one elementary
and one high school--are expected to open in 2002.
In 1997, then-Governor
Froilan Tenorio, a Democrat, and State Representative
Heinz Hofschneider, an Independent, introduced the Parental
Choice Scholarship Program. Under this program, the 12,000
students on the Mariana Islands would receive scholarships
of up to $1,500 each to be redeemed at a school of choice.
A watered-down version of this plan was approved by the
education committee in late 1997, but after the governor
failed to win reelection, the plan was never revisited.
Resident Representative Juan Nekai Babauta is a school
choice advocate and supports voucher programs similar
to one proposed by President Bush.
of the Governor
P. Tenorio, a Republican, has not made his position on
P.O. Box 586
Saipan, MP 96950
Office of the
Resident Representative of the CNMI
2121 R Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: (202) 673-5869