Reactions to Gov. Christie’s Remarks on Education in his State of the State

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Long and harsh, as you’d expect given the Governor’s unbridled thoughts on the Legislature’s move to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot to fully fund teachers’ pensions. Here’s some excerpts. You can read the full press release  here.

The governor is happy to take credit for our schools’ successes, while attacking the men and women who make that success possible.
He does New Jerseyans a disservice by grossly distorting the truth about the pension-funding crisis he has made much worse.
The only thing more delusional than the governor’s pension statistics are his presidential aspirations.
New Jersey’s public schools were among the best in the nation before Gov. Christie took office, and we will continue to fight tooth and nail to preserve our successful public school system against his rhetorical attacks, financial under-funding and stifling bureaucratic nonsense.
There is one thing that NJEA members, their families and New Jersey voters can agree with Gov. Christie on: our best days are ahead of us. They begin in January 2018.”

 Nicole D. Cole, President and CEO of N.J. Charter School Association:

The New Jersey Charter Schools Association applauds Governor Chris Christie and his Administration’s continued commitment to high-quality charter schools as a means to open pathways to educational opportunities in the communities that are most in need. Under this Administration, thousands of children across New Jersey have realized their potential when provided access to high-quality charter schools.  The foundation for today’s charter school successes has been laid with the Administration’s increased emphasis on accountability through the rigorous charter school application, renewal, and review processes. We look forward to measures that will support continued access for children who deserve 21st century facilities with qualified educators and innovative academic programs for every learner.

Governor Christie’s responsibility to New Jersey’s children is not only commendable, it is right. The NJCSA looks forward to continued work with Governor Christie and his Administration to develop initiatives that will continue to improve access to high-quality public education for every family in New Jersey, regardless of their ZIP code.

Better Education for Kids (B4K):

Better Education For Kids (B4K) applauds Governor Chris Christie’s continued support for charter schools in today’s State of the State Address.  Like Governor Christie, B4K strongly supports the expansion of high-quality public schools whether they are operated by a local school district or a charter school.  New Jersey’s at-risk students simply can’t wait. Policy and regulatory steps that increase access to high-quality options for parents and families is critical.

NJ Spotlight:

Christie originally touted charters as a signature accomplishment to handle the unprecedented expansion of students served by the schools, especially in Newark and Camden. 

But after a big first wave of approvals early in his administration, when more than 20 charters got the green light, approvals dwindled to just a few a year… 

Without providing many details in the speech or afterward, Christie said his administration would pursue regulatory changes in areas like teacher certification and school facilities, without mentioning statutory proposals.

New York Times:

To a room filled mainly with Democrats, who have taken an increasingly combative posture toward Mr. Christie in his second term, the governor said he had no intention of abandoning his policy agenda at the state level. 

But Mr. Christie largely cast himself as a check on the impulses of Democrats and labor unions — to legislators, he called them “your union bosses” — rather than as a partner in policy making.

Wall St. Journal:

Mr. Christie also spoke about the expansion of charter schools in the state, growing to 89 from 39 when he first took office in 2010. He announced that he would try to make it easier for taxpayer funded, independently operated schools to find facilities and get their teachers certified. 

Charter schools are popular among conservatives, and they typically aren’t unionized. Critics argue they drain traditional public schools of resources and some don’t serve their fair share of the hardest-to-teach students. Mr. Christie said he wanted more charters, including schools serving children with autism and developmental delays. 

Democrats looked uncomfortable during his pointed remarks, and union officials grumbled during his attacks. Wendell Steinhauer, president of the New Jersey Education Association teachers union, said that New Jersey’s “best days are ahead of us” when Mr. Christie leaves office.

On charter schools, Christie said the Department of Education will explore ways to give them more flexibility in teacher certifications and make it easier for them to find facilities. He said the state will also encourage new creation of new charters aimed populations such as students with autism or developmental delays. 

He lauded the successes of charter schools in urban districts, such as Newark and Camden, where nearly 30 percent of public school students attend charter schools. As an example of the benefits of a charter school, Christie pointed out math teacher Allisson Cuttler, from the Uncommon Schools’ North Star Academy in Newark. 

More than 25 percent of African-American students in New Jersey who passed the AP Computer Science exam came from her classroom, with a pass rate that matches the national average. 

“If we choose to keep investing in and supporting innovation in our education system, there’s no reason we can’t achieve many more success stories. There’s no reason we can’t have great schools in every community,” Christie said.

Tweet from Matt Katz:

Matt Katz ‏@mattkatz00  19h19 hours ago
If you had “pensions” in the Chris Christie #StateofState speech drinking game YOU ARE WASTED RIGHT NOW.

Here’s the full transcript of Christie’s speech.
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