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Christie-Union Clash Reaches New Level

Videographers lurk outside New Jersey Education Association headquarters in hopes of trying to catch NJEA executive director, Vincent Giordano, in another embarrassing moment. The stakeouts are a result of the union leader’s comments about opposition to school vouchers. When asked about low-income families that can’t afford to send their children to schools that could work better for them, he says, “Life’s not always fair and I’m sorry about that.”

The comments drew a reaction from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who said Giordano’s comments were “outrageous” and he should be fired or resign. The union leader quickly fired back at Christie, saying he should resign for bullying him.

Not long after this battle of words did cameras start appearing at NJEA headquarters. Cameramen have been identified and have connections to the Republican Party, prompting union spokesperson Steve Wollmer to ask if Republican Christie was behind these tactics.

The Statehouse Bureau captures Michael Drewniak’s response for Christie well: “The governor certainly had no part in it, but it is great to see NJEA’s crack public relations machine at work. They’ve succeeded in re-shining the light on Giordano and his cold-hearted, ‘life is unfair’ feelings about children trapped in failing urban schools. Bravo.”

NJ Spotlight: Administration's New Message to Charter Schools: Quality Not Quantity

With only four of 60 charter applicants approved, Christie and Cerf signal that the rules are changing for charter schools — as are the politics

By John Mooney
NJ Spotlight
October 3, 2011

When the Christie administration last week announced it approved just four new charter schools out of nearly 60 applicants, it came with a message of quality over quantity from Gov. Chris Christie’s top education officials.

But there were clearly a few factors in play, from the politics of the upcoming legislative election to the changing rules in the department itself. For example, two of the approvals announced last week were part of larger networks of schools that are gaining favored status with the state.

Nevertheless, for anyone thinking the movement is slowing, 25 more schools are still slated to open next fall, the biggest new class yet. And there may be more to come.

Politics Matter

There was no doubt that Gov. Chris Christie was hearing grumbles from his Republican base. Many of his suburban legislators either voted for or abstained on new controls on charter schools being trumpeted by Democrats.

Christie himself had long been a lightning rod for the debate over charter schools, making their expansion a centerpiece of his education platform. When his administration last spring approved 23 new schools — by far the largest group ever — he went into Newark to announce the news schools himself.

But even before that, resentment was growing in the suburbs about the sudden advent of the charter schools in their midst, drawing dollars from their cash-strapped districts.

And as the months passed, Christie and his acting education commissioner, Chris Cerf, began to back off and publicly questioned whether charter schools were needed in relatively well-performing districts. Christie even said so in one of his national speeches in Iowa, before he started openly flirting with a

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ABC News: Fighting the Feds: 2012 Candidates Want States to Control Education

By Amy Bingham
ABC News
Sep 29, 2011

It’s back-to-school time, as President Obama reminded the nation in his annual back-to-school speech today. And during election season, no school year begins without stirring up education reform debates.

But this election is all about the economy and will likely revolve around what role the federal government should play in stimulating job growth, not how much it should spend on merit pay or standardized testing.

So when it comes to education policy debates, whether it’s the Democratic incumbent or the array of Republican challengers, all eyes – and talking points – are on two things: the federal government’s role and the overall cost.

“The meta-narrative is obviously pushing back on health care reform and on the stimulus,” said Rick Hess, the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. “Obama’s education agenda is being framed by the GOP, and especially the Tea Party, in light of those other elements.”

From the president’s perspective, America’s schools are crumbling and Washington needs to step in and invest $30 billion to rebuild them, a move Obama has said will both “create a better learning environment,” and, “create good jobs for local construction workers.”

But more government spending is just about the last thing on the minds of any GOP presidential candidate. Rather than pushing for further investments, White House hopefuls are touting their ability to rein in spending.

In New Jersey, where rumors abound that Gov. Chris Christie may toss his hat into the GOP race, the governor used a line-item veto to strip $500 million from education funding. Christie also helped usher in public employee pension reform which will save the state $130 billion over the next 30 years, a move that, coupled with decreases in collective bargaining rights, infuriated teachers unions.

Faced with a $15

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Charting a course for reform

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s terrifically honest keynote address at this year’s Excellence in Action National Summit in Washington, DC:


The Antidote

christie-antidoteGarden State Governor Chris Christie doesn’t mince words, and doesn’t suffer fools. His reaction to a compromised school choice bill, watered down to allow for swift passage in the legislature:

“If you gut the purpose of the program to begin with, what good is it?…

If you compromise yourself away to nothing, then I don’t know what you’ve won…

(Legislators) are irrelevant in this in comparison to the children in 200 plus failing schools in New Jersey who are being stripped of hope…

People wonder why there is violence in our cities. Violence is commited, in the main, at least in my experience, by people without hope.

They wonder why there is drug abuse in our cities. People who turn to drugs are generally people with out hope.

They wonder why families are disintegrating in our cities. Families disintegrate because of the poison of a lack of hope.

And the greatest antidote to a lack of hope is a world class education“.

(Watch his complete response.)


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