NJ’s Education Fiasco Deepens

Gov. Christie wants us all to move on off his bungled Race to the Top application that cost the state nearly half a billion bucks. Get over it. Stop mentioning it. Don’t ask no questions. Ah, and that application for $268 million in federal aide to replace teacher jobs he hasn’t applied for? What? Well, I support public edu… hey, is that Mika Brzezinski? How’s my tie? I’m the Decider!

Christie’s got his man. He wants to offload all of this onto former Education Commissioner Bret Schundler: “Don’t lie to the governor,” says the Governor. But there are signs Schundler, with whom I agree on nearly nothing, but who even political foes can see may be being unfairly maligned, is tired of hearing himself impugned for what he maintains he did not do. Christie demands this all to evaporate on his explanation that Schundler told him (and his staff) that he gave the missing Race to the Top info the funding reviewers in D.C., when he did not. But Schundler says the opposite, that he told Christie (and his staff) that he did not give that info to them. Schundler now says it’s the Governor who’s lying:

The Governor is saying I misled him and that is absolutely untrue.

That becomes important because it is not clear that Schundler knew the required information was not in the application, and because the application was hastily changed over Memorial Day weekend, though details there are sketchy, to date. What hand Schundler had in making those changes – unclear, to date. A reported draft of the application with edits, in Schundler’s handwriting removing budget information federal officials request in the application, has not been produced to date, and the Christie administration has not responded to requests for those documents.

The “mystery” of the fatal “error” is not solved.

(read about it below the fold)

The push by the Governor to close the books on this matter may be an effort to deflect attention from the timeline of the Race to the Top application and blunders, from how processes work in the Christie administration, and in who made what decision and when. It cannot be as simple as a Governor already caught by federal video in one very public untruth simply announcing he’s done talking. And that is because he is now in the chain of persons whose actions need to be investigated. As a person who stands to gain politically from no further transparency on this matter – who stands to gain if no further questions are asked, if records and notes are not subpoenaed, if officials and support personnel are not called to testify – his opinion of how the investigation should proceed should no longer matter.  

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