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Chris Christie on Education

 


Combine $8.9B in more funding with needed reform

A top priority must be to continue New Jersey's record of excellence in education, and to fix problems where we are failing:And finally, investing the largest amount of state aid to education in NJ history- $8.9 billion in this year's budget, over $1 billion higher than in Fiscal Year 2011. In NJ, we have combined more funding with needed reform. Both money and reform of our schools are essential, but neither alone is sufficient. In NJ, we are leading the way for the nation by providing both.
Source: N.J. 2013 State of the State Address , Jan 8, 2013

Take on the teachers unions for real tenure reform

When I came into office, I could continue on the same path that led to wealth, jobs and people leaving the state or I could do the job the people elected me to do--to do the big things. There were those who said it couldn't be done. The problems were too big, too politically charged, too broken to fix. But we were on a path we could no longer afford to follow.

We did it. They said it was impossible to touch the third rail of politics. To take on the public sector unions and to reform a pension and health benefit system that was headed to bankruptcy. With bipartisan leadership we saved taxpayers $132 billion over 30 years and saved retirees their pension.

We did it. They said it was impossible to speak the truth to the teachers union. They were just too powerful. Real teacher tenure reform that demands accountability and ends the guarantee of a job for life regardless of performance would never happen. For the first time in 100 years with bipartisan support, we did it.

Source: 2012 Republican National Convention speech , Aug 28, 2012

Dems believe in teacher's unions; we believe in teachers

They [Democrats] believe that the American people don't want to hear the truth about the extent of our fiscal difficulties and need to be coddled by big government. We believe that the majority of teachers in America know our system must be reformed to put students first so that America can compete.

Teachers don't teach to become rich or famous. They teach because they love children. We believe that we should honor and reward the good ones while doing what's best for our nation's future-- demanding accountability, higher standards and the best teacher in every classroom.

They believe the educational establishment will always put themselves ahead of children. That self-interest trumps common sense. They believe in pitting unions against teachers, educators against parents, and lobbyists against children.

They believe in teacher's unions. We believe in teachers.

Source: 2012 Republican National Convention speech , Aug 28, 2012

Allow students in failing schools to attend better schools

[Christie debated Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan on radio in the GOP primary of 2009]. Christie and Lonegan differed on details of a school voucher program. Christie said they should enable students whose schools are failing to attend better schools in neighboring towns willing to accept them. Lonegan said they should be used to promote competition between public and private schools within cities.
Source: Rise to Power, by B. Ingle & M. Symons, p.138 , Jun 5, 2012

1984: As student, made speech to Delaware state Senate

1984: As student, made speech to Delaware state Senate Christie graduated in 1980, then headed off to the University of Delaware, where he got involved in student government and met his future wife, Mary Patricia Foster. 1984: As student, made speech to Delaware state Senate It happened in part through university politics, with Chris en route to a bachelor's degree in political science he would earn in 1984. His sophomore year,
Source: Rise to Power, by B. Ingle & M. Symons, p. 30-31 , Jun 5, 2012

Wife and children attended parochial schools

Wife and children attended parochial schools The Christie children attend Catholic school--a point critics would use to question his sincerity about public education, generating an angry & consistent none-of-your-business response. "That's my choice, and my wife's choice. We happen to believe that Wife and children attended parochial schools schools. I think it's an important part of our children's growth as human beings," Christie said. "But guess what? I still pay $38,000 a year in property taxes, most of which goes to the public school system in my town. And we don't utilize it.
Source: Rise to Power, by B. Ingle & M. Symons, p. 39 , Jun 5, 2012

1999: Lobbied for Edison Schools, for-profit school operator

1999: Lobbied for Edison Schools, for-profit school operator After his defeat, Chris Christie returned full attention to work at Dughi & Hewit. Their 3rd biggest lobbying client was Edison Schools, the for-profit private operator of public schools, including charter schools in Jersey City and Trenton.

In 1999, 1999: Lobbied for Edison Schools, for-profit school operator The bill capped the number of students who can leave a district for charter schools at 7% of enrollment. Christie asked that the cap not apply to the 31 districts, most of them poor and urban, that were covered by a long-running school-funding lawsuit.

Source: Rise to Power, by B. Ingle & M. Symons, p. 61-62 , Jun 5, 2012

Vote down school budgets unless teachers freeze pay

In NJ, most of the roughly 600 school districts have elections in which voters can approve education budgets. They're held in April and largely go unnoticed by the majority of the electorate. In a series of town hall meetings, Christie pushed his reform agenda and began to encourage people to vote down school budgets in districts where teachers didn't agree to freeze their pay. In one a teacher rose to challenge him, resulting in one of those YouTube moments. The governor told her no one was forcing her to teach. Voters seemed to like it. They defeated school budgets in record numbers--more than 58% of tax levies defeated, the 1st time since 1976 that more than half the school budgets were defeated. Turnout was nearly 27%; it had never before reached 19%.

Did the governor cause that? It seems so. The following year, Christie didn't campaign against school budgets, and a larger-than-normal share of them passed--80%, the most in 8 years. Turnout fell by 1/3, though it still topped historical norms.

Source: Rise to Power, by B. Ingle & M. Symons, p.197 , Jun 5, 2012

Replace Abbott District funds with tenure reform & charters

Let's face it: more money does not necessarily lead to a better education. It is time to admit that the Supreme Court's grand experiment with NJ children is a failure. 63% of state aid over the years has gone to the Abbott Districts and the schools are still predominantly failing. It isn't working for children in failing districts, it is unfair to the other 557 school districts and to our state's taxpayers. My proposals reflect the intention we should all have: to put children first:
  1. reform tenure--by taking it away from those whose ratings are unacceptably weak.
  2. if layoffs are necessary remove the least effective teachers instead of just the most junior ones.
  3. pay teachers more when they are assigned to a failing school or to teach a difficult subject.
  4. end forced placements--teachers should not be assigned to schools without the mutual consent of the teacher and the principal.
  5. reform our process for authorizing charter schools to focus on our failing school districts
Source: N.J. 2012 State of the State Address , Jan 17, 2012

Most great teachers want accountability

Q: You've had this huge battle with education unions. They've accused you of bullying them. You've been pretty vigorous in your response saying that if you want to go into teaching you know the pay grade; there's no point squealing about it when you get there; you don't like it don't go into it.

A: Listen, what I really want is accountability. And I think most great teachers want accountability. I mean the teachers I had in school that helped make me who I am, they would never fear accountability because they knew they were doing a great job, and they watched children develop under their watch. And all I'm saying is that every child in New Jersey deserves the kind of education I got. Every one of them does. And we're paying more per pupil per year than any state in America.

Source: Interview on CNN "Piers Morgan Tonight" , Jun 15, 2011

Criticizes NJEA leadership as well as state's teachers

The Governor will answer critics who say that he is vilifying the state's teachers by claiming that he's only criticizing the leadership of NJEA. Yet in almost every town hall meeting, his actions belie that fact. Christie attempts to portray teachers as greedy with a comedy routine designed to show his audience how teachers are paid on a salary scale based on seniority, not on merit.

"You are still alive," Christie mocked as he addresses his Old Bridge audience on the day he announced his education reform agenda. "So you've added another year onto your tenure year. So congratulations. Here comes your raise. Now your performance was awful. You didn't do what we asked you to do. You didn't produce the product we wanted you to produce, but we don't look at that. All we look at is are you still breathing. Congratulations! You are still breathing. Open up the back account; here comes the money. Now it's laughable, right? It's what happens every day."

Source: Teachers Under Attack!, by Mike Spina, p. 38 , Feb 17, 2011

Tried to cut school superintendent salaries by edict

Superintendents no longer accrue tenure. Instead they sign contracts of 3 to 5 years in length. That appears to have led to increasingly large salaries because superintendents are like free agents in baseball. Once their contract is up, they are free to shop their talents to any school district willing to pay. If a district feels it has a superior superintendent, it may be forced to pay larger increases to keep that superintendent from leaving. The salaries of superintendents did not approach what they are now when they were able to acquire tenure.

Christie has tried to curtail those huge superintendent salaries by edict, stating that no superintendent should be making more than the Governor. So he invented a sliding scale for superintendents based on student population [and made it retroactive to] February 2011. Several school boards have filed suit because their superintendent's contract was rejected before the salary scale went into effect.

Source: Teachers Under Attack!, by Mike Spina, p. 78 , Feb 17, 2011

OpEd: Christie & NCLB push teachers; but not students

On NCLB: "George Bush's heart was in the right place, but his methodology was all messed up. I mean the concept of not leaving any child left behind, to educate all children, is a good concept, but it became incredibly complicated, underfunded and put a heavy reliance on things like standardized testing. As a reform measure, it does not work."

The problems with the No Child Left Behind law are myriad. Several come to mind right off the bat: its dependence on standardized test scores; linking merit pay to test scores; and the goal of achieving 100% proficiency by 2014 is totally unrealistic.

Another huge problem with NCLB that many supporters of the law ignore is that it places no consequences on the students who do not meet proficiency levels. Not once has Governor Christie or any other politician called out students who, in some cases, do not make any attempt at learning. And Christie continually boasts that he tells it like it is.

Source: Teachers Under Attack!, by Mike Spina, p. 93-96 , Feb 17, 2011

Couldn't measure charter success: lost $14M in federal funds

September 24, 2010: Another juicy fact that had not yet captured the public's attention [was] that the State of NJ had also missed out on gaining $14 million that was supposed to have gone to charter school expansion.

In an Associated Press report out of Trenton on November 29th after the Philadelphia Inquirer had reported it earlier in the day, it was revealed that NJ failed to gain the $14 million in Federal funds because the state did not have an adequate plan for measuring the success of charter schools. Federal reviewers found other flaws in the NJ application as well. Of the 17 applications considered. NJ was one of only 5 that were denied. If it had been successful, a total of $150,000 would have gone to every charter school in NJ.

Source: Teachers Under Attack!, by Mike Spina, p.142 , Feb 17, 2011

More charter schools; ok for private companies to operate

Chris Christie has made no attempt to hide the fact that he wants to make it easier for more charter schools to open in NJ and that private companies should be allowed to bid to receive approval to operate many of those charter schools. In other words Christie wants to bring to NJ privatization.
Source: Teachers Under Attack!, by Mike Spina, p. 92 , Feb 17, 2011

Let school leaders get certified by alternate routes

The mayors taking control of school districts: "It would politicize the entire system. It would start making decisions even more political than they are today, especially in our large cities. In NJ, we have enough rules and regulations and laws that require certain backgrounds, certain certifications for you to be running a public school system. Booker doesn't have them."

No, Booker doesn't have certification as a school administrator. Listening to Chris Christie preach to his town hall audience faithful, one might think that NJ has the worst public school system in the nation. Actually, NJ has one of the best public education systems. Its high school graduation rate (82%) is the highest in the country; its high school students have the highest advanced placement scores; it has the highest percentage of 3 and 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool. Where education struggles is in your urban districts.

If only approximately 5% of

Source: Link , Feb 17, 2011

OpEd: NJ schools best in US; only urban districts struggling

Listening to Chris Christie preach to his town hall audience faithful, one might think that NJ has the worst public school system in the nation. Actually, NJ has one of the best public education systems. Its high school graduation rate (82%) is the highest in the country; its high school students have the highest advanced placement scores; it has the highest percentage of 3 and 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool. Where education struggles is in your urban districts.

If only approximately 5% of Public school teachers as well as secretaries and some custodians in NJ are granted tenure by state statute after compiling 3 consecutive years of employment. Once a teacher acquires tenure, however, only 4 basic reasons can affect whether a teacher can be fired. Those reasons, listed in state law, include inefficiency, incapacity, conduct unbecoming, or just cause.

Unfortunately, Christie has portrayed tenure as a guaranteed job for life. And the public is quick to pick up on his attacks.

Source: Link , Feb 17, 2011

OpEd: Portrays tenure as lifetime guarantee, but it's not

Public school teachers as well as secretaries and some custodians in NJ are granted tenure by state statute after compiling 3 consecutive years of employment. Once a teacher acquires tenure, however, only 4 basic reasons can affect whether a teacher can be fired. Those reasons, listed in state law, include inefficiency, incapacity, conduct unbecoming, or just cause.

Unfortunately, Christie has portrayed tenure as a guaranteed job for life. And the public is quick to pick up on his attacks. I would hope that Governor Christie would take President Obama's words from his State of the Nation address to heart. "Let's also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child's success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom," said President Obama. "If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child--become a teacher. Your country needs you."

Notice that Obama said "after parents."

Source: Link , Feb 17, 2011

OpEd: Ignores that parents educate kids more than teachers

I would hope that Governor Christie would take President Obama's words from his State of the Nation address to heart. "Let's also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child's success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom," said President Obama. "If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child--become a teacher. Your country needs you."

Notice that Obama said "after parents."

Source: , Feb 17, 2011

Expand 73 charter schools to replace 200 failing schools

We cannot ask children and families stuck in chronically failing public schools to wait any longer. It is not acceptable that a child who is neglected in a New Jersey school must accept it because of their zip code. We must give parents and children a choice to attend better schools.

Over 100,000 students are trapped in nearly 200 failing schools. We need to tell those children, and those families, trapped in poor schools that we are coming--and that before this Legislature goes home we will give them more help toward improvement, more hope, and more choice. We must expand the charter school program beyond the six we approved this year and the 73 operating in New Jersey. That is a top priority. I am ready to work with the Legislature to attract the best charter school operators in America to New Jersey; to increase our authorizing capacity so they can start charter schools here; & to implement the interdistrict school choice law we passed last year.

Source: 2011 N.J. State of the State Address , Jan 11, 2011

Build up colleges to support business, & avoid "brain drain"

Chris Christie spoke directly to students today, telling a small group at Raritan Valley Community College that New Jersey was not doing enough to fund their educations. "Over the last eight years, this state has done an awful job supporting higher education in New Jersey," Christie said, adding that state aid to colleges and universities is down 2% in that time period.

The result of that is what the former U.S. Attorney calls the "brain drain"--referring to trends that show fewer high school graduates stay in New Jersey for college, and those who do end up leaving after earning a diploma.

Lagging colleges also lead business leaders to see the state differently. Companies seek to have long-term, "intellectual relationships" with educational institutions but might not be able to if schools aren't built up enough to attract students, he said. Businesses need access to practical and research support from colleges, as well as a trained workforce, he said.

Source: Newark Star-Ledger coverage: 2009 N.J. gubernatorial debates , Jul 29, 2009

Public education system is failing; increase accountability

The toughest, most important problems in our state are too often met with simple answers. Take our schools, for example. Our public education system is failing in far too many parts of our state--in our cities, in our suburbs and in the rural parts of our state. Our children deserve better.

All our current government does is simply throw more money at the problem without ever bringing about real change. Change won't come just with more money. That's the easy answer that hasn't worked for far too long. Change will only come with increased accountability and greater parental involvement.

It is a moral imperative to educate our children in every corner of this state. It's time we had a Governor with the courage to provide tough answers for tough questions. Chris Christie will be that Governor.

Source: 2009 Gubernatorial campaign website, christiefornj.com , Jul 21, 2009

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