Christie pushes for charters schools, end of teacher tenure

In his first state-of-the state speech, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie said the state is improving.He outlined priorities for his second year in office calling for fiscal discipline, changes in education, and pension and benefit reforms for public workers.The governor said he’s ready to work with lawmakers to give more than a 100,000 students more choice to escape from poor performing public schools.”We must expand the charter school program beyond the six we approved this year and the 73 that are operating in New Jersey,” Christie said Tuesday. “That’s a top priority.”Christie also called for the implementation of a school choice law passed last year as well as the elimination of teacher tenure.He’s urging that the retirement age be increased and cost of living adjustments, known as COLAs, be curbed to help save the state’s pension system.And he says he’ll propose the initial installment of a comprehensive tax reform package in his budget address next month.Democratic leaders in the state Legislature are taking issue with that agenda.”Before we talk about any kind of education reform in that area he has to start funding the education that we have. We have schools right now that he cut $1.3 billion out of,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “Our schools are not doing as well because he’s denying them the funding.”Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said she doubts turning state funding over to a for-profit charter school operator is the way to improve education in failing districts.While the governor said his priorities are education and pension reform, Oliver said the priority for Democrats is creating jobs.

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