Chris Christie on Education



Program for at-risk youths to get them into college

In partnership with our community colleges, we launched the College Readiness Now Program to help at-risk students graduate from high school and to get prepared to attend college. 19 community colleges partnered with more than 60 high schools across the state, serving 900 high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds. 97% of the students completing the program in Atlantic and Cape May Counties enrolled in Atlantic Cape Community College as freshmen.
Source: 2016 State of the State speech to New Jersey legislature , Jan 12, 2016

Further de-regulate charter schools

Charter schools have succeeded in spite of our regulatory environment--not because of it. Instead of giving charter schools the autonomy they need to deliver great education outcomes, we're regulating them using the same regulations that apply to traditional public schools. It's not good for innovation or for attracting more innovative charter school operators to our state. Today, I'm announcing that my administration will aggressively prioritize regulatory relief for these schools.
Source: 2016 State of the State speech to New Jersey legislature , Jan 12, 2016

Focus on college readiness; expand use of apprenticeships

Source: Fordham Institute EduWatch 2016 by Brandon White , Jul 6, 2015

Free college is ludicrous, but we can reduce the cost

Q: Bernie Sanders is pushing free college for all. What's your alternative?

CHRISTIE: My alternative is we have to start to put market forces on these college costs. I pay for two college tuitions right now, and I can tell you that they're the most opaque bills you'll ever see in your life. If you got that bill for dinner with that little of that detail, you wouldn't pay it. You'd send it back. Yet for college, we pay it.

Q: What would you do as president?

CHRISTIE: Universities need to start telling us exactly what they're spending the money we give them on. And secondly, we need to unbundle those costs. So if a child doesn't want to pay for all of these different things in college, they should be able to select it. That will tell colleges what they don't need to provide and we shouldn't have to pay for. These ideas will help to contain costs, but the concept of free college for everybody -- there's nothing free in this world. We need to earn what we get.

Source: ABC This Week 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jun 14, 2015

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

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

Chris Christie on Public Schools

Signed NJ onto Common Core but now regrets it

In February, Christie said he regrets signing onto Common Core as New Jersey governor because of the way the program was implemented. He said that local and state governments need more control over standards. In 2013, he touted his decision to sign on to Common Core as part of President Obama's Race to the Top initiative.

In March, Christie filed to renew his state's waiver giving it more flexibility in how it implements No Child Left Behind requirements.

Source: PBS News Hour "2016 Candidate Stands" series , Jun 30, 2015

Supports both charter schools and vouchers

He was met outside by hundreds of teachers in red shirts from around the state who gathered for a "truth to power" rally. Their handmade signs read "Christie: fat chance" and "Liar, liar, extra-large pants on fire." I know a lot of New Jersey teachers and I have yet to meet one who has anything nice to say about Christie, whom they see as denigrating public schools and endangering their pensions and benefits. They also fume over his support for charter schools and vouchers.

As a local school board member when Christie took office, I know that he is the only reason that some costs were reined in. He instituted a cap on outrageous superintendent salaries and demanded that teachers and other school employees pay something towards their previously free health-care premiums. Christie told the crowd in the high school gym that he didn't care about being popular. "I'm not running for prom king," he said.

Source: Forbes Magazine "2016 Candidates Want You to Know" series , Jun 30, 2015

Extend school until 6 PM daily; and 12 months per year

Christie said at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics' Politics and Eggs, "We need to approach education different in different areas. There cannot be a one-size-fits-all. How are we still teaching everybody almost the same way that we taught them in the 1800s? Lines of desks, facing forward, looking at a black board or a white board, one person standing in the front of the room from 8:30 or so to 2:30 or so in the afternoon eight months a year. Source: Forbes Magazine on 2016 Faith & Freedom Conference , Jun 30, 2015

Choice of schools to meet child's needs

For four years in a row, we've provided a record amount in aid to our public schools--over $11.9 billion in the current fiscal year. But more school reform is needed. And a great first step would be to pass the opportunity scholarship act, to give parents a choice of a school that meets their child's needs.

Let's give families an alternative to chronically failing neighborhood schools. Let's keep driving for better outcomes. Let's give parents and students more choice.

Source: State of the State address to 2015 New Jersey Legislature , Jan 13, 2015

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

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

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

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

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 NJ's schools are struggling and the state still ranks at the top or near the top in all the important testing categories, then why are the drastic education reforms that Christie is proposing necessary?

Yes, urban districts are struggling. Something must be done in those districts to bring them in line with NJ's successful districts. But the truth of the matter is that the state has to solve the problems of poverty, poor family structure and unmotivated students that dominate these urban districts.

Source: Teachers Under Attack!, by Mike Spina, p. 32-33 , 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." The President recognizes that parents and the home environment are THE most important cog in a child's education and THEN comes the teacher. That is directly opposite what Christie believes. As we've seen, the Governor believes that teachers are at least 50% responsible for a student's test scores. Even if that were true, then the other 50% would have to be divided up between the students themselves, their parents and other variables.

Source: Teachers Under Attack!, by Mike Spina, p.199 , 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

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

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

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

Chris Christie on Teacher Unions

Teachers unions are not for education of our children

Q: During your first term as governor, you were fond of saying that you can treat bullies in one of two ways: "You can either sidle up to them or you can punch them in the face. I like to punch them in the face." At a national level, who deserves a punch in the face?

A: The national teachers union--because they're not for education of our children. They're for greater membership, greater benefits, and greater pay for their members. And they are the single most destructive force in public education in America. I have been saying that since 2009. I have got the scars to show it. But I'm never going to stop saying it, because they never change their stripes.

Source: CNN SOTU 2015 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Aug 2, 2015

Speak the truth to the teachers union; then reform tenure

Christie on teacher tenure: "We reformed the oldest teacher tenure law in America so that now teachers that get a failing grade can get fired and not have a job for life in front of our children's classrooms." -- Faith & Freedom Coalition "Road to Majority" conference, Washington, D.C., June 2015

Christie on education reform: "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. 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." -- Republican National Convention, Tampa, Florida, August 2012

Source: Forbes Magazine on 2016 Faith & Freedom Conference , Jun 30, 2015

Tenure reform for failing teachers; merit pay for good ones

We have also done much in the past five years to reform our education system. For the first time in 100 years, we came together to reform tenure, so that failing teachers can be removed from the classroom.

For the first time, we brought the concept of performance-based pay to schools in our largest city, Newark--so that we can pay the best teachers more.

We have expanded charter schools. And together we have enacted urban hope legislation to create renaissance schools in our highest risk districts.

Source: State of the State address to 2015 New Jersey Legislature , Jan 13, 2015

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

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

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. Perhaps that's why Governor Christie is pushing, as one of the staples of his education reform agenda, to make it easier for principals and school leaders to gain certification by going through an alternate route. Alternative route programs generally mean that prospects are not required to earn college credits by taking courses in education or to have the appropriate educational experience that would be needed to run a school system.

Source: Teachers Under Attack!, by Mike Spina, p.166 , 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. And in today's economic crisis, large segments of the public believe that at a time when many people are losing their jobs, teachers have it way too good.

Although Christie's education reform agenda did not spell out many specifics when it comes to tenure, he has called for replacing it with a system of 5-year renewable contracts for teachers. In other words instead of tenure, a teacher would have to have his or her contract renewed every 5 years.

Source: Teachers Under Attack!, by Mike Spina, p. 68-70 , Feb 17, 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

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