Governor Chris Christie has made clear that he doesn’t like the public schools in his state. He calls them “failure factories,” as he campaigns for vouchers. (He is a graduate of Livingston High School.) He seems to despise public school teachers. He enjoys berating teachers, especially if they are female. He is one big, tough, strong guy who knows how to put down women.
Melissa Tomlinson is a public school teacher in New Jersey. She went to a Rally for Governor Chris Christie and she held up a sign.
Read this wonderful description on Jersey Jazzman’s blog of Melissa’s courage in confronting a bully.
Her sign said:
“I am a public school teacher.
“We are NOT failing our students.
“N.J. is ranked 3rd in the US.
“Christie’s refusal to finance public education is failing our students.”
She asked him: “Why do you portray our schools as failure factories?” His reply: “Because they are!” He said: “I am tired of you people. What do you want?”
So, the most powerful executive in the state of New Jersey treated this dedicated public school teacher with arrogance, rudeness, and disrespect. She didn’t back down. She had him cornered. She is right. He is wrong. Probably, he knows he is wrong, so he felt compelled to shout her down instead of engaging in civil dialogue.
Melissa Tomlinson was right that Governor Christie has underfunded the schools. He froze the spending that was supposed to be used to repair schools with leaky pipes and mold and crumbling facilities.
But Tomlinson was wrong about one thing: on the 2011 NAEP, New Jersey was second in the nation in reading, behind Massachusetts and tied with Connecticut. In math, New Jersey was second in the nation. Not third, but second.
The districts in New Jersey that are failing are the ones that are controlled by the state, some for decades. The state has no idea what to do other than to hand students and public funds over to private corporations.
As Julia Sass Rubin pointed out in an earlier blog today, the Christie administration has systematically underfunded districts that enroll children of color. It has stripped them of democratic governance. It has overloaded them with charters that skim the best students and increase segregation. Governor Christie praises charter schools that exclude children who have serious disabilities and children who don’t speak English. The state has embarked on a policy of separate and unequal for the districts that are powerless.
Governor Chris Christie should be ashamed of himself for his systematic neglect of the education of New Jersey’s most vulnerable children as well as his rude and disgraceful behavior towards public school teachers. He should stop his war against public education. It will not help him become president. It will be a huge liability.
Here is a blog in California. Governor Christie, your reputation as a bully is going national.