Touts tenure reform and merit-pay deal, but doesn’t mention controversies over Common Core and state takeovers of urban schools


Credit: Governor’s Office/Tim Larsen
Gov. Chris Christie speaks yesterday at Iowa State University.

When Gov. Chris Christie laid out his 15-point education plan during a speech yesterday in Iowa, it was notable for what he included — and, of course, what was left out.

The speech was touted as a major policy pronouncement in Christie’s yet-unannounced quest for the Republican presidential nomination, addressing a topic that has been a signature issue for him in New Jersey.

Spanning from K-12 through college, the plan highlighted one of Christie’s biggest accomplishments: the 2012 passage of a tenure-reform law.

“For the first time in 100 years, we came together to reform teacher tenure in New Jersey – so that failing teachers can be removed from the classroom, and held accountable for the performance of their students,” Christie said.

Christie also promoted the idea of merit or performance pay for teachers, citing its implementation in the state-operated Newark schools.

And the governor took credit for another law dating back a decade that has opened up school choice in public schools, calling for even further expansion of school choice to provide students with a pathway out of low-performing schools.

Sprinkled throughout the speech, he both praised “heroic” teachers, yet criticized their unions, which he described as fighting his reforms each step of the way.

“When the unions said that only more money could reform K-12 education, here’s what I said to them – we need accountability, competition and choice,” Christie said. “That’s what will put our children first.”

There were some notable omissions in the speech, some more curious than others.

Topping the list was that there was practically no mention of the Common Core State Standards, a topic of hot debate in New Jersey for the last few weeks – a debate largely driven by Christie himself.

The governor rocked the education establishment here earlier this month when he announced that the state would back away from the Common Core, after he had himself strongly backed the standards as recently as 2013. The reversal was widely seen as political posturing tied to his national aspirations.


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