TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A bill advancing Governor Chris Christie’s school choice agenda has been approved after a four-hour hearing.

The measure would establish a five-year pilot program granting tax credits to businesses that contribute toward education scholarships.

The scholarships would allow children in 13 low-income districts to transfer out of failing schools to attend another public school or a private or parochial school.

Much of Thursday’s debate centered on whether money earmarked for public education should be diverted to private education.

Senator Tom Kean Jr., a co-sponsor, said more than half of the $16,000 spent to educate a child each year would follow the student.

Opponents say the aid drain would doom already failing schools and the children left in them.

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