Podcast: Back to School for Gov. Christie

Governor talks up his education agenda, admits some of it may have to wait

When and where: In between a summit with New Jersey mayors and more attention to the state’s severe flooding, Gov. Chris Christie yesterday spent a half-hour talking about his push for education reform with Ray Pinney of the New Jersey School Boards Association.

Listen to internet radio with NJSBA on Blog Talk Radio

Why it matters: These are Christie’s first extended public comments about education since schools opened across the state. He is expected in the next few weeks to hold several high-profile events to highlight his agenda of more accountability for schools and teachers and more choices for students and their families.

What he said that’s old: Much of the comments are a repeat of his calls for tenure reform, better teacher evaluation, more choices through charter schools and private school choice. And while he may have softened in some of his rhetoric lately, he continued his attacks on the leadership of the state’s teachers’ unions.

What’s a little new: Christie acknowledged that the coming legislative election will likely slow progress on his tenure reform proposals, and any significant work will likely wait until November. He also said his administration continues a review of the state’s funding formula, with some new proposals expected for next year’s state budget. And responding to a question from a listener, he added that the general budget picture for next year looks good so far, or at least on target.

Charters on the mind: Christie also continued to say that charter schools should be focused on failing districts, a nuance aimed to appease the growing backlash to the spread of the experimental schools in more affluent suburban communities. This is no small issue, since his administration is about to approve another round of charters.