The End of the Teacher-Bashing, Chris Christie Era

Cross-posted with my blog, Jersey Jazzman.


Allow me a few personal thoughts:

Eight years ago, I started this blog in direct response to what I and many other teachers around the state perceived as a climate of teacher bashing brought on by New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie.

Today is Christie’s last day as governor. Somehow, we teachers survived.

I’m only being a little hyperbolic when I say this. When I look back on Christie’s two terms, I see both a series of policies and a set of attitudes that were — and are — a threat to the teaching profession in New Jersey.

  • Perhaps most important: Christie has tarnished New Jersey’s legacy as a leader in school funding reform by promoting inequitable, inadequate school funding schemes and repeatedly ignoring the state’s own law regarding school funding.

Add to all this Christie’s bullying, preening, sneering, dismissive, sexist attitude toward teachers — no, not just their unions, but teachers themselves. 

 

When you total up all of the above, it really is remarkable New Jersey’s teachers are still doing the great work they do every day on behalf of this state’s children.

Does our profession need to improve? Of course. But Chris Christie’s constant undermining of public schools and public educators has done nothing to improve the evaluation, compensation, work conditions, or prestige of New Jersey’s teachers. He has made the profession less attractive, which inevitably means fewer of our best and brightest are considering teaching as a career path.

Phil Murphy has a very difficult job ahead. Years of fiscal irresponsibility — and, yes, I will be the first to say this recklessness long predates Chris Christie — put him in a very difficult spot. There’s little doubt in my mind health benefits for teachers will have to be reconfigured, and it’s hard to think of a scenario where we come out ahead. Our policy on state aid to schools needs an overhaul, as does our tax policy.

None of this will be easy. But at least we will have a governor who supports public schools and public school teachers.

After eight years, I’m looking forward to going to work on Tuesday knowing the governor isn’t going to publicly blame me and my fellow teachers for the many problems New Jersey faces that we didn’t create and we can’t be expected to fix on our own.

Best of luck, Governor Murphy.

 

And Mr. Christie: have a nice life…

ADDING: As I said, the whole reason for starting Jersey Jazzman was to push back on the anti-teacher rhetoric of the Christie era. I do believe this blog has evolved to become something more than that… and yet this first mission has come to an end.

What’s next? Stand by…

Comments (2)

  1. Marie Corfield

    Thank you Jersey Jazzman for speaking truth to power these past 8 years!

    Reply
  2. Stephen Danley

    JJ – can’t wait to see where the blog goes. Your blogging is one of the reasons I started to write publicly about policy issues — thanks for the years of inspiration!

    Reply

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