Exclusive: Gov. Christie On Education Reform, DRPA

CAPE MAY, N.J. (CBS) — In an exclusive one-on-one interview with Eyewitness News, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie placed the blame for education failures in the Garden State squarely on the primary teachers’ union – the New Jersey Education Association.

He also spoke about a range of topics from the Delaware River Port Authority – to the job performance of new Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett – to the $32,000 that Rutgers University paid Jersey Shore’s Snooki for an appearance.

But most of the interview, conducted in Cape May, was about education reform, largely because the governor is traveling the state selling a plan to change the way teachers are awarded tenure and pay raises.  He wants it to be based on performance – test scores and peer evaluations – not be automatic.

“I put my faith with the people of the state who want something better [in education] and want to get value for what they’re paying for,” the governor said.  He points out that New Jersey spent $25 billion last year on public education so money clearly is not the issue; it’s the teachers’ union and its president Barbara Keshishian.

“I barely know her,” he said.  “I only had one meeting with her, and it didn’t go that well … But I know she’s been an obstacle to real reform.”

The governor said he doesn’t think it would do any good to sit down with her because the union’s not interested in changing the status quo – a system that fails thousands of children each year.

The governor said he’s not made any decisions yet about whether he will endorse a Republican running for president next year.  He’s had dinner meetings with several of the prospective candidates, including Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Haley Barbour.

“Why do you think they want to meet with you?” asked Eyewitness News reporter Ben Simmoneau.

“Because I think we’ve had some success in New Jersey,” Gov. Christie said.

The governor said that no decision has yet been made about the future of Delaware River Port Authority CEO John Matheussen.  Matheussen has been working without a contract at the DRPA since last summer, when the agency came under fire for high salaries and lavish perks.  He says Matheussen’s fate will be decided in consultation with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett – who took office in January and shortly thereafter made himself chairman of the DRPA board.  Gov. Christie gives Gov. Corbett, a fellow Republican, high marks.

The governor was not so fond of the decision by students at Rutgers University to spend $32,000 for an appearance by Jersey Shore’s Snooki – that payment is reportedly $2,000 more than the university paid acclaimed writer Toni Morrison.

Christie said he didn’t know if Snooki’s visit was the best use of those funds, but that decision is up to the students.

He did say: “I wish she [Snooki] would go back to New York and stay there.”

Reported by Ben Simmoneau, CBS 3

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  • Vom Brunhaus

    Mr Christie is a RADICAL, he has went after NJEA, the SENIORS, Public Service employees. Quite simply he has lost way too many votes and will not be re-elected. The $300 tax rebate/credit he promised Seniors and Disabled was not a flat $300, most only received $250.

  • Lynda Desouza

    Gov Christi is spot on. There are some good teachers and that is a start but we need all the good teachers, there are also some bad teachers and they are not held accountable and they can’t be fired because of the union problem. Teachers love to blame the parents because a few kids are hungry or have trouble at home but I don’t think those few kids or parents are to blame for entire schools failing. Nice try. Everyone loses in the blame game but thanks for playing everyone.

    • Agree with Lynda

      VERY well put Lynda………. Thank You!!

  • Sarah Stein

    I am a second grade teacher in Washington state, where luckily the Republicans haven’t taken over the government. However, there are still enough politicians similar to Gov. Christie who are comfortable in their plush cars, homes, and offices where they are happy to play the blame game. Instead of spending time talking about what they think is to blame for the problems in public education, get into classrooms and spend time learning what teachers deal with on a daily basis. Go into classrooms where there aren’t enough desks or textbooks for every student, or where there are students who are sleeping in cars each night or aren’t getting enough to eat. Many of these students are at a disadvantage when you put a standardized test in front of them, even if they have a dedicated and passionate teacher. Paying teachers based on test scores is the most ridiculous idea. I would wonder how my pay would be calculated, since my students don’t take standardized tests.

    I take my job seriously and I went into the education field because it’s something I’m passionate about. I have spent several years and thousands of dollars to make sure I am the best teacher that I can be, but with 30+ years left in my career, I don’t know how far my passion can take me. I will be finishing my master’s degree in two months, but due to possible pay freezes, I may see a decrease in my pay next year. So while what I’ve learned in the last two years has made me a better teacher, I won’t be able to make my student loan payments. It’s quite frustrating to deal with budget issues, and when you throw political garbage on top of that, you wonder why so many teachers leave the profession!

    So Mr. Christie, I suggest before you do one more TV interview, leave your comfortable office and get into some public schools and look at the good things students are accomplishing. Meet some teachers on their turf and come up with some solutions. You might learn a thing or two.

    • "CHANGE"......Ya, right!

      Sarah, I suggest that you direct your complaints to Mr. “CHANGE”, who is camped out in OUR White House, enjoying many more perks than ANY Governor in this Country is.

      Point blame where blame is do…….

      Be honest, you voted for “Mr. Change”, didn’t you?? The only “Change” we’ve seen is a change for the worse! Are you any better in this current Administration?…….get your head out of the sand already!!!

    • Gayle

      Sarah: It is your JOB to TEACH. It is your choosen job. Just as a salesman sells or a server serves. If they don’t do their job,they lose their job. Why should you be any different? It is your job to break through to the disadvantaged kids and TEACH them. There of course will always be a student or two that will not pass the grade or tests,but that is the exception not the rule. Paying teachers based on students grades is the BEST IDEA ever! I feel sorry that in your Democratic state they allow more students in a classroom than there are desks or books. You will NOT find that in Jersey,not even in our poorest cities. We also offer breakfast to all students,and free to those of low income families. Good job they’re doing there in Washington! Also,as for not being able to pay your students loans….give me a break! I don’t know what your payrate there is but our teachers are paid more than a fair salary here. If you can’t live off of a STARTING salary of $48,000 and up,then you need some money managing help. If someone leaves a teaching job here because of the money,then I say good riddens!

      • No More Whining From Teachers

        Gayle, you are correct in everything you say. Sarah, if your career choice is so bad, move on and find a different one, ok? I don’t think anyone forced you into being a teacher!

        Consider yourself lucky that you even have a job, and PLEASE quit whining!!

  • Nostromo

    The affluent and businesses must be taxed for their utilization of the State’s, the Nation’s too for that matter, supporting infrastructure.

  • Nostromo

    Governor Christie’s taken to tuning up the Official State Biplane himself to save some $$$.

  • grumpy

    Where are the JOBS Gov??? Stop playing the Tea Party games and earn your paycheck!

    • Quit Complaining!

      Hey Grumpy, at least THIS Governor has the guts and passion to take on two of the biggest farces in this State….the NJEA and the DRPA. Both have been allowed to run “out of control” for YEARS!! He has obviously shown more interest in “US” taxpayers than any other Governor in this State, since I moved here 17 years ago. He IS earning his paycheck Grumpy, doing what is RIGHT for the taxpayers!

      Where are the “JOBS” you ask?? Ask that clown sitting in the White House that promised “CHANGE”. You know who I mean, I’m quite certain YOU voted for him………UNREAL!

      • grumpy

        Ha ha ha ha………..

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