It's never his fault.
It was Gov. Chris Christie who unilaterally instituted New Jersey’s salary limits on school superintendents, and it will likely be governor who either ends or extends them when the caps expire in 2016.Christie yesterday wasn’t much showing his hand, first deriding educators who complain about their pay and then placing the responsibility on an unexpected source.
Of course they were: isn't it enough that Chris Christie said it? What do you want, actual proof or something?"There is always criticism when educators are not getting paid every nickel that they want,” Christie said at a Statehouse press conference. “That's just typical.”Then came the accusation: “Remember, the superintendent salary cap was an idea of the New Jersey Education Association. Maybe you should go ask them."And then he hedged some more: “When something [expires], there is always going to be a discussion about it, and I'll be a vigorous participant in it. We'll see what happens.”But while none of that was particularly new for a governor who has stood by the pay limits since they were imposed in 2011, the NJEA comment certainly caught a few people by surprise.The NJEA was quick to respond. “Absolutely not,” said Steve Wollmer, the union’s communications director. ”He proposed it, we opposed it, and he knows it.”What the governor was referring to was unclear, although his limits came at roughly the same time he was pressing teachers to agree to pay freezes in the face of steep state aid cuts.Efforts to seek fuller explanation from Christie’s office yesterday were unsuccessful.
The superintendent pay caps were always a terrible idea, and everyone with half a brain in their head knew it when the Christie proposed them. State Senator David Wolfe, the Republican deputy minority leader (and a man I respect), has already conceded that something has to be done to address the talent drain Christie's caps have caused.
When normal politicians lose the leaders of their own parties, they tend to rethink their positions. But not Chris Christie: that would require admitting that maybe he was wrong about something, and that can never, ever be allowed to happen.
So even though Christie repeatedly crowed about the caps back in 2010, and said competitive wages for superintendents were "...abuses that have been permitted for too long at the expense of our children’s education," he can't possibly admit now that he was just dead wrong.
Instead, Christie absurdly blames, of all organizations, the teachers union. It's like a reflex with him: if anything goes wrong, blame the NJEA. If he ever becomes president, I'm sure he'll claim Vladimir Putin is a dues-paying member.
Let's hope the press makes Chris Christie run on his record; if he does, there isn't a chance he will win the presidency. But, of course, being a failed governor didn't stop others from reaching the White House when the media gave them a free pass.
And look at how well that turned out...