Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday he expects his already bloody battle with the state teachers union to intensify in the year to come.
Asked if his attempts at reform would cause a bigger rift with the union, Christie, as is his style, did not pull punches.
“Well, let’s see, last year they prayed for me to die so I don’t know whether it gets whole lot worse than that but we’ll see,” he said, referring to a controversy that erupted when a teachers union member circulated a prayer joking about the death of the governor. “I don’t know whether it will get worse, but I will tell you this, the stakes are higher than they were last year.”
Christie talked about the films “The Cartel” and “Waiting for Superman,” which explore the education system and take aim at the teachers union as opponents of true education reform.
“If you watch back to back Waiting for Superman and The Cartel, and the answer is pretty clear as to who the obstructionists are to reform, who is standing in the way of our children getting a better education, who is putting their paychecks before the interest of a better education system for New Jersey and America. It is the teachers union,” he said.
Christie launched into his advocacy of merit pay for teachers, saying the unions need to accept that rewarding mediocrity among teachers is not the way to fix the education system, a point he has stressed throughout his tenure as the state’s chief executive.
In answering the question, Christie signaled the seriousness with which he views education reform.
“Every year we wait, kids fall further behind and out country falls further behind,” he said. “So this is the civil rights imperative of our time. This is it. And for those who want to stand in the way of it maybe they are going to block us and stop us like they have so many times before but they have to live with the result of that.”