New Jersey Education Association President Barbara Keshishian issued a statement in response to Gov. Chris Christie’s address entitled “Christie’s education rhetoric doesn’t add up.”
“NJEA is eager and willing to enter the discussion over education and pension reform in New Jersey, because we have much to add to that discussion,” Keshishian said.
“It calls for honesty and candor, yet today Governor Christie painted a picture of his first year in office that does not match up with the experience of people who lived through it. He conveniently failed to mention his $1.3 billion in cuts to public education, but students, parents, and all New Jerseyans have paid steeply for them in larger class sizes, reduced programs, and higher property taxes.
“He may have forgotten, but New Jerseyans remember his administration’s bungling the $400 million Race to the Top application, and his foot dragging on the $268 million in federal jobs funding that could have saved 3,900 New Jersey jobs if he had acted more quickly.
“Instead, he wants to strip teachers of due process rights in order to fire more of them, while openly advocating for private school vouchers and more charter schools.
“His vision for pension reform is fatally flawed because he still refuses to admit his role in the state’s failure to contribute one penny to the pension funds in 13 of the last 17 years.
“Slashing benefits and raising costs for employees will not solve the problem the state has created for itself. He must step up and lead by making regular, responsible state contributions. He finally said the state should do so, and we will hold him to that.
“His education agenda continues to rest on the assumption that standardized test scores are the most important measure of learning. Despite mountains of evidence showing that assumption is deeply flawed, he is insisting that teachers be evaluated, paid, and even fired based on how well they raise student test scores. He should allow his task force on evaluation to conduct honest research on the test score issue, rather than telling them what to conclude before they issue a report.
“His combative rhetoric is wearing thin. It’s time for Governor Christie to work collaboratively with NJEA and the entire education community for reforms that are supported by research, and which will benefit all students.”