Christie confident of progress on tenure changes, merit pay, charter schools

Gov. Chris Christie says he is hopeful the New Jersey Legislature will act this year on his proposals to make changes in the state’s education system.

Even though the governor wanted the reforms enacted last year, he said lawmakers had a full plate dealing with a difficult budget as well as pension and benefit changes.

Christie said Monday legislative leaders are willing to address several education issues this session including tenure reform, merit pay and charter school reform.

“I can’t guarantee you it’s going to happen, but I’m really hopeful,” Christie said. “And you can count on the fact that I’m going to spend a lot of my own personal political capital to try and get it done.”

The pace of reforms will depend on how quickly he and the Legislature can reach agreement on tax cuts and a new state budget.

Christie said he has had conversations with Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, D-Essex, on tenure reform and merit pay.

“I’m encouraged. I mean I don’t know what form it will take yet. These things are always subject to negotiation and discussion,” he said. “But we are talking about it and it is on a list of priorities that myself, the Senate President, and the Speaker have agreed upon to try to move this year.”

Christie says he also wants lawmakers to approve the Opportunity Scholarship Act, which gives corporations tax credits for providing scholarships for students to escape failing schools.

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