Christie assesses trip to Israel: Educational, business opportunities abound

Even halfway around the world Gov. Chris Christie finds fodder for educational reform.

During a teleconference with reporters this afternoon concerning his ongoing weeklong trip to Israel and Jordan, Christie talked of his visit to the Israel Center for Excellence Through Education this week and what N.J. education officials can learn from it.

Christie said he intends to have his acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf get in touch with the educators who run the center in Jerusalem.

The center’s interdisciplinary approach – the humanities and arts supplementing physics and math – as well as how it brings together students of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to board together, caught his attention.

“It’s an interesting model they have,’’ Christie said. “Using humanities to amplify skill sets.’’

He said his administration is laying the groundwork to have the Israeli educators consult with N.J. officials on a topic – educational reform – that has been a major issue for him.

A thank-you to Codey

Christie touched on a variety of issues related to his visit to Israel, and to a degree sought to downplay coverage of questionable sensitivity in the N.Y. Post this week that included puns and references to his weight.

But he did tip his cap to Sen. Richard Codey –  a frequent opponent – who today issued a press release harshly critical of the Post coverage.

“I appreciate him putting out a statement that called people to task,’’ Christie said, adding that he had not seen the Post headline although he had heard about it.

“It’s a distraction,’’ Christie said, “and it’s unfortunate that the Post decided it wanted to go there. That kind of stuff really doesn’t bother me.”

Business links

Christie said the visits with executives of Teva Pharmaceuticals and Better Place Electric Cars will lead to business opportunities in New Jersey.

“We will have something positive to talk about very soon,’’ he said in reference to Teva.

Religious sites

Christie said that after touring religious locales such as the Mount of Olives, Crucifixion sites, and the Western Wall, after visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Muesum, and after walking the same streets that Jesus Christ walked, he has a deeper appreciation for his faith as well as the precarious security situation Israel faces.

Israel is that region’s sole democracy, Christie said. “The U.S. should be unambiguous regarding the fact that we are Israel’s friend, and we need to stand with them when they are challenged.’’

The risk of nuclear power in Iran, the Arab Spring in Egypt, and the unrest in Syria, all are major issues in the day-to-day lives of Israelis, he said.