In the education-policy realm, where the currency of rhetoric earns followers and acclaim, Garden State governor Chris Christie reigns as king—and it’s not a bad place to sit. While Reagan had his “welfare queens,” and Giuliani his “squeegee men,” Christie has his “sprawling and powerful public-sector unions.” To combat this leviathan, Christie has found the perfect public rallying cry, well-articulated in a recent New York Times Magazine piece on the governor by Matt Bai. Through anecdote (and a bit of demagoguery), Christie explains the link between his state’s fiscal crisis and public-union fringe benefits—giving himself plenty of room to act. Of course, Christie isn’t the only education reformer to wage the war of words. Michelle Rhee puts “students first.” Fordham battles the “status quo” and the “education establishment.” But Chris Christie, in his own coarse and charismatic way, could teach us all a few lessons. And, as the war of words melds into the war of ideas, we’d all be wise to take notes.
“In War of Words, ‘Reform’ a Potent Weapon,” by Sean Cavanaugh, Education Week, March 1, 2011.
“How Chris Christie Did His Homework,” by Matt Bai, The New York Times Magazine, February 24, 2011.
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