I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Such a Nice Boy

The Star-Ledger interviewed Christie's former teachers in Livingston. Yes, it's a silly premise, but the piece left me with a couple of takeaways:
Even his fans are bewildered by some of his more provocative comments — such as the one placing teachers on par with drug dealers by likening students being given budget information to take home to "drug mules."
"We’re all puzzled by the attitude, more than by what he’s trying to do," said Anthony Hope, his baseball coach and a big supporter. "I agree with most of what he’s saying — I hope he has success, because we’re all going to benefit — but not how he’s saying it."
That's really the key for a lot of teachers: why are we all of a sudden the villains? What did we do to deserve this?

I think if you had asked teachers about their health care before Christie's jihad, most would tell you they not only get a great deal - if the state is really having problems, they'd be willing to pay more toward their care.

But Christie blustered and bullied, demanded a pay freeze of teachers but not of cops or firefighters, and then shoved the 1.5% down the throats of the legislature, all while giving the state's millionaires a big wet kiss in the form of a tax cut. What are teachers supposed to think?

Of course, he doesn't see it that way at all:
"She’s personalizing something that wasn’t a personal attack at anyone," Christie said. "I have a policy to pursue and I tell it exactly as I see it.".... "I don’t think I’ve been ‘pugnacious’ and I don’t think I’ve been disrespectful," Christie said. He prefers to think of himself as "direct" and "blunt." 
“I love the public schools but the fact of the matter is there is excess and greed there,” said Christie, during an appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box. 
Or how about:
The state teachers union said--they had a rally in Trenton against me. 35,000 people came from the teachers. You know what that rally was? The "me first" rally. "Pay me my raise first. Pay me my free health benefits first. Pay me my pension first. And everybody else in New Jersey, get to the back of the line." Well, you know what? I'm not going to sit by and allow that to go unnoticed, so we'll shine a bright light on it, and we'll see how the people react. But I think we are seeing how the people of New Jersey are reacting, and that's how you make it politically palatable in other states in the country. Just shine a bright light on greed and self-interest. (emphasis mine)
Or my personal favorite:
 "Scaring students in the classroom, scaring parents with the notes home in the bookbags, and the mandatory 'Project Democracy Homework' asking your parents about what they're going to do in the school board election, and reporting back to your teachers union representatives, using the students like drug mules to carry information back to the classroom, is reprehensible." (emphasis mine)
Comparing teachers to drug dealers is not "direct" and "blunt" - it's provocative and insulting. And his feint of saying he's going after the NJEA and not teachers themselves is not only insulting - it's patronizing. Teachers are perfectly capable of selecting their own leaders and replacing them if they don't do their jobs, thank you very much (as I've said before, I think there's more than a little sexism involved in this attitude). But insults and condescension go hand in hand with Christie:
The governor’s response: "As they contrast what they saw of me as a 15- and 16- or a 17-year-old student to what they see now, they might not have a full understanding of how tough these fights are now." (emphasis mine)

Yes, teachers, don't worry your pretty little heads about these problems - let the adults take care of it.

Christie's attempt to distance the union from the teachers themselves is laughable, and even his former teachers know it. No one is falling for this, Governor; you don't get to unsay what you've said. You made us the enemy, and there is simply no way we will forgive or forget what you have done. I think many, many voters won't either.

One last thing:
"The first thing people say, whether they’re retired teachers or not, is, ‘Does he have a vendetta?’ They use that word: vendetta. They ask, ‘Where’s this coming from? Why is he bashing teachers? What is this bullying?’" said Amy Saffer, a Spanish teacher who had the governor’s younger brother in class and knew the Christie family. "Everybody’s scratching their heads."
And yet, according to both Christie and his former teachers, he had an idyllic childhood: class president, baseball team captain, good student. What happened after school to make him like this? What about him changed to make him so bitter?



Steve Nesich said...

Maybe it was all those twinkies?

Working Mom said...

Were these public school teachers or private school teachers who were saying what a "nice" boy Christie supposedly was?

Working Mom said...

Were these public or private school teachers saying this about Chris Christie's student days? That alone will tell us a great deal.