As state officials and educators alike anxiously await the results of the Federal Race to the Top competition, state teachers union officials say money or no money, the reforms included in the application will be damaging to schools.
“We think it’s a bad application and doesn’t really provide what the Department of Education is looking for and we don’t think the reforms it proposes will be beneficial to education,” said New Jersey Education Association Spokesman Steve Baker. “We want what’s best for our schools and we believe the proposals that are contained in the governor’s application would be educationally damaging.”
Asked if the NJEA was rooting against the potential $400 million dollar infusion, Baker said only “we’re not going to go there, but we believe the governor’s education agenda, some of which is included in this application is damaging to schools.”
Baker called on Christie to restore some of the $1.4 billion in cuts to local school districts included in the recent budget and to apply quickly for a federal bailout program that would add $268 million to save teachers’ jobs.
The NJEA and Christie have been at war over the application since Gov. Chris Christie nixed an application that had been hashed out between the union and DOE Commissioner Bret Schundler. Christie scolded Schundler for making the deal and proceeded to submit his own application, which called for reforms including merit pay that the union opposes.
New Jersey has been named one of 19 finalists for the money, with the final announcement due Tuesday.
At about 11 a.m., a spokesman for the governor said the announcement on the application could come at any minute.