UPDATE: I posted this about 12 hours ago on a late Saturday night, and already it has over 30K hits. I’ve never seen blog traffic like this, especially on a weekend. Is it not obvious that there has been an enormous amount of frustration and anger building up over Chris Christie’s condescension toward teachers, parents, and students? And that all it took was one brave act by one brave teacher, Melissa Tomlinson, to finally break the dam?
I, and many others, have not given up. I proudly support Barbara Buono for Governor of NJ, because she would never engage in this thuggish, bullying behavior toward any constituent, let alone a teacher.
New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, has a long history of teacher bashing – not just teachers union bashing, but teacher bashing. Even when he’s clearly in the lead, he can’t help himself: he has to take a swipe at teachers whenever he can. It’s almost pathological: even when he’s up by a sizable margin, Chris Christie just can’t turn down a chance to bash a teacher who gets too uppity – as he proved today: (h/t to our own Momotombo)
In an exclusive, I am privileged to present an account of what happened today from Melissa Tomlinson, the brave South Jersey teacher who showed up at Christie’s partisan political rally in Somers Point this afternoon and dared to ask her governor a question – as is her right as a citizen and a taxpayer of New Jersey. Here, in Tomlinson’s own words, is what happened:
Well, I was in a crowd of all Christie supporters with my sign. They were all eyeing me apprehensively. A few tried to stare me down. Some of them even blocked me from the crowd.
When his bus arrived one of his henchmen went on the bus to speak to him. I was right at the door. It was like he was told to deliberately turn away from me when he got off of the bus.
I went to listen to him speak. I stood in the front of the crowd that was standing towards the back. I know he caught sight of me. He stared at me a few times during his speech. I left right as his speech was over to position myself right at the door of the bus. He came out, shaking everyone’s hands as he was getting on the bus. I asked him my question, expecting him to ignore me but he suddenly turned and went off.
I asked him: “Why do you portray our schools as failure factories?” His reply: “Because they are!” He said: “I am tired of you people. What do you want?”
I told him I want money for my students. He fought back with the amount that he has spent on education. My response was along the lines of the fact his amount was not actually an increase from the previous years, given the rate of inflation and other factors. (I think I got that from one of your blogs).
The crowd started arguing with me. He screamed at me to just do my job. The crowd cheered for him. I just looked at them and told them: “Hey, this is my life. I had to do this.” I tried to follow him to Atlantic City to continue the conversation but the roads were blocked by police when I got there.
Chris Christie to teachers: “I am tired of you people!”
Chris Christie on our public schools – and the performance of the students in them: Failure factories!
There is really nothing left to say. If you vote for this man, shame on you.
ADDING: Want to do something about this? Oh, Marie:
ADDING MORE: Is it possible to be less self-aware?
Hours after Barbara Buono branded him “The Prima Donna,” Gov. Chris Christie today responded by criticizing the tenor of her campaign and calling state Sen. Jim Whelan “an animal.”
“She’s now in the last four days of a campaign that is fueled by anger,” Christie said at the Somers Point VFW. “Beware of campaigns that are fueled by anger instead of hope, cause now you know she’ll call me every name in the book. It’s hard me to to keep count of every name she’s called me in the last few days. I feel badly for her supporters because they deserve better than that.” [emphasis mine]
Yes, this is the same campaign stop where Christie bullied Melissa Tomlinson and called New Jersey’s great schools “failure factories.” He really is that clueless.
ADDING EVEN MORE: Mark Naison, godfather of the Bad-Ass Teachers network, has posted a letter from Melissa Tomlinson that has further details about their encounter:
But let’s put money aside for a moment. What do I want? What do ‘we people’ want? We want to be allowed to teach. Do you know that the past two months has been spent of our time preparing and completing paperwork for the Student Growth Objectives? Assessments were created and administered to our students on material that we have not even taught yet. Can you imagine how that made us feel? The students felt like they were worthless for not having any clue how to complete the assessments. The teachers felt like horrible monsters for having to make the students endure this. How is that helping the development of a child? How will that help them see the value in their own self-worth. This futile exercise took time away from planning and preparing meaningful lessons as well as the time spent in class actually completing the assessments. The evaluations have no statistical worth and has even been recognized as such by the NJ Department of Education. I am all for evaluation of a teacher. I recognize that I should be held accountable for my job. This does not worry me, as long as I am evaluated on my methods of teaching. I can not be held wholly accountable for the learning growth of a student when I am not accountable for all of the factors that influence this growth. Are you aware that poverty is the biggest determination of a child’s educational success. If not, I suggest you read Diane Ravitch’s new book Reign of Error. Take a moment and become enlightened.
Read the whole thing – it’s great.
EVEN MORE: The Star-Ledger’s Jenna Portnoy picks up the story:
Melissa Tomlinson, a teacher at Buena Regional Middle School, said she asked the governor, “Why are you portraying our schools as failure factories?” He responded, “What do you want? I’m tired of you people,” according to Tomlinson. They had a brief argument over public school funding before she said, “He told me to do my job and turned around and got on the bus.”
The exchange was witnessed by a crowd of Christie supporters who had just listened to him give a campaign speech inside the VFW. The Republican governor faces Democrat Barbara Buono in Tuesday’s election.
“I wanted to have a conversation with him,” Melissa Tomlinson, a teacher at Buena Regional Middle School, said in a phone interview today. “I want people to be aware of the truth of what’s going on in education.”
Christie cut more than $1 billion in state aid to schools in his first year in office. He has since touted his administration’s attention to public schools. He supports expanding charter schools and instituting a voucher program called the Opportunity Scholarship Act, which would give students in low-performing money for tuition in private schools. [emphasis mine]
And you’re really going to vote for him? Really?