New Jersey's "Biggest Loser"
Aside from ex-governor Jon Corzine, no one lost bigger in November’s Garden State gubernatorial election than the New Jersey Education Association. That, at least, is the sense in Trenton, where newly-elected Governor Chris Christie has declared war with the teachers’ union. Besides appointing former Jersey City Mayor (and veteran voucher booster) Bret Schundler to run the state’s education department, the Governor and his allies have so far engaged mostly in a verbal sparring match. NJEA’s thinking is “back in the 19th century,” says Christie, while the head of the Black Ministers’ Council, Reverend Reginald Jackson, likened the union to Rip Van Winkle. NJEA Prez Barbara Keshishian still hopes to establish a “working relationship” with the new guv. But voters “didn’t pick me because they were looking for a subtle approach,” declares Christie. “So, here it comes.” Despite all this smack-talking, NJEA is still a force to be reckoned with. It has dollars, manpower, and pet elected officials aplenty upon which to call as Christie takes his charter school-voucher-teacher evaluation agenda to the mat. And the union’s refusal to back the Garden State’s Race to the Top application, announced the same day as Schundler’s appointment, cannot help Jersey’s chances. But notwithstanding the NJEA’s $3 million effort to defeat him, Christie rode a positive wave into Trenton, and that’s sure to count for something. Here's hoping that this brawl doesn’t end up as part of a reality series plot line.
"Gov.-elect Christie targets teachers' union with Schundler appointment," by Tom Moran, The Star-Ledger, January 13, 2010
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