Gov. Christie receives ‘Citizen of the Year’ Award from privately-funded scholarship program in Philly

     NJ Gov. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was in Philadelphia on Tuesday to receive the

    NJ Gov. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was in Philadelphia on Tuesday to receive the "Citizen of The Year Award" from the Children's Scholarship Fund of Philadelphia.(Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie accepted the “Citizen of The Year Award” on Tuesday from the Children’s Scholarship Fund of Philadelphia.

    The award comes days after Christie’s pilot voucher program — the Opportunity Scholarship Act — was dropped from the state budget bill.

    Christie said it was strange to receive a Citizen of the Year award on this side of the Delaware River, but that New Jersey schools and Philadelphia schools are fighting similar battles.

    “In New Jersey, we’re working hard, just as I know folks are here, to improve the public schools and it is, at times, an extraordinary challenge,” he said, “because you have to challenge a status quo that wants to maintain a system that serves their interests, often, ahead of the children’s interests.”

    Last week, the Democrats who control the legislature negotiated with Christie’s administration to cut the Opportunity Scholarship Act out of the budget bill.

    It would have used $2 million in tax breaks to generate scholarships for students in low-performing schools. Students could get up to $10,000 for tuition at private or religious schools.

    The proposal for this kind of school-choice legislation has been kicking around the New Jersey legislature for years. Despite some influential supporters, time and again it fails to become law.

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