School Administrators head lauds Christie’s ongoing education initiatives

TRENTON – The head of the state’s school administrators group said he appreciates Gov. Chris Christie’s interest in reforming the public education system, adding that reforms are needed and a “critical dialogue” between both sides must continue.

Richard Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, said during an interview on former New York Gov. David Paterson’s radio show on Monday that school districts in urban areas could particularly use reforms, given their generally spotty performance.

Christie has said he will make improving the state’s education system one of his top priorities, continuing to stress the importance of providing school choice through charter schools, merit pay for teachers, and changing teacher tenure as we know it, among other initiatives.

In terms of recent legislation passed in the last session of the Legislature, Bozza said he thinks providing the option of holding school board elections in November is a good idea, largely because it could help boost turnout.

He added he likes the option of having the budget question posted only if the tax increase called for by the proposed spending plan exceeds the 2 percent cap. A similar set-up presently exists in municipal elections.   

When Paterson said Christie received a big victory when the New Jersey Education, the state’s largest teachers union, endorsed the Urban Hope Act, Bozza suggested the union didn’t have much choice since it didn’t have as much support – especially from Democrats – as it had enjoyed previously.

The Urban Hope Act’s primary sponsor is Sen. Donald Norcross, (D-5) of Camden, whose brother, George Norcross, a South Jersey power broker for the Democratic Party, is one of the biggest education reform advocates.

The act, which Christie signed into law last Thursday, would enable nonprofit entities to run school districts in Newark, Camden and Trenton, requiring them to fulfill certain criteria.