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

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mythbusting Chris Cerf at @NJEA: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Chris Cerf, NJ Education Commissioner, at the New Jersey Educators Association convention, Atlantic City, 11/8/13*:
I always look forward to this event and I'm really delighted. And I want to extend my appreciation particularly to the leadership of the NJEA, with whom I feel that we've had a sometimes spirited discussion, but always a positive and a respectful one.
NJ Governor Chris Christie, 11/5/10:
“These teachers have all summer off. Can’t they have their convention during the summer?’’ the governor said as he spoke to a clutch of high schoolers surrounding him.

“They got to get two days off from school because, you know, they don’t get enough time off now, right? They get two weeks off at Christmas, they get all the different holidays, then they get all the summer off and now they need two more days.

“Why do you think that is? Do you think If they cared about learning where would they be today?’’

Ashley Batts, 16, a Trenton Central High School sophomore answered “in school.’’

“That’s right, in school, baby, they would not be down there in Atlantic City having a party — because that’s what it is.’’ [First, I hope Cerf had fun at the "party" this year. Second - does anyone else think it's weird Christie called a 16-year-old girl "baby"? - JJ]

I also want to amend Wendell's [Steinhauer, President of NJEA] kind introduction by saying that the one piece of my CV that sometimes doesn't get mentioned is I taught high school for four years... I shouldn't say this... 1977 to 1981? That's a little embarrassing, but I guess that was some time ago. So... I don't want to overstate the relevance of that, but I do... it has left me with a tremendous appreciation of teachers and great teaching and the work that you all do so incredibly effectively.
Christie, 3/24/10 (at a rally he flew to in a taxpayer-funded helicopter):
"Teachers who crowded the statehouse on Monday to try to intimidate public officials like Assemblyman Schroeder and Assemblywoman Vandervalk into not voting for pension and benefit reform. 
"And when one teacher was asked, "What are you doing here today? It's a Monday in the school year." She said, 'Oh, we got a substitute. I left a plan; it's not like they're watching videos or something.' 
"They. 'Not like they're watching videos or something.' I thought that was a really interesting part of the quote. That contraction: 'they're.' They didn't say 'the kids' then, did they? No, they only use the words 'the kids' when they want to evoke an emotional response from you which will get you to open your wallet and pay them. 
"When they're talking about protesting and fighting in Trenton, then it's 'they're.' 'They're watching videos or something.' I thought that was an interesting part of the quote. Language matters, ladies and gentlemen. Language is a window into attitude. And this isn't about the kids. So let's dispense with that portion of the argument. 
"And I have heard these stories over the last week, over and over again from all over New Jersey about teachers standing in front of classrooms, and lying about and excoriating the governor and the lieutenant governor." [This remains my personal favorite of the many times Christie has insulted teachers and their unions: his righteous indignation here is prompted because a teacher used a pronoun to describe her students. Think about how truly stupid this is. - JJ]

So there's much that unites us, but at the same time, it's often what divides us that captures the headline, that captures the attention and generates the anger of the posters and the frankly lack of civil discourse that sometimes seems to characterize our collective world.
Christie, 4/25/13:
Gov. Chris Christie blames “special interest” groups on the failure to enact certain school reforms he says are necessary to improving education in New Jersey.
The governor told a friendly Bergenfield crowd Tuesday that Garden State students are in need of more hours in the classroom and longer school years in order to stay competitive. Christie blamed special interests with blocking those changes for purely their own personal interests.

They don’t want a longer school year, they like having the summer off,” said Christie, referring to the adults – not the students – who he accuses of blocking the reforms.

Second: let's keep discourse civil around this. I don't think anyone here is the caricature that is often made of us. 

Christie (link):

And the last thing that I hope we can join together in is that these conversations take place in a framework of mutual respect.
Christie, 4/19/10:
"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." 

I have the deepest imaginable respect for the contribution of our teachers, our educators. We may disagree on some policy initiatives, but I know the great success this state is experiencing is attributable overwhelmingly to the commitment, the passion, the talent, the craftsmanship of our educators.
Christie, 11/1/13:

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?"

If Chris Cerf really wants a "civil discourse" around education, he should march down to the Governor's office and demand that Chris Christie stop spewing invective and start treating New Jersey's teachers and their union with respect.

Until that day comes, Commissioner, your calls for a "civil discourse" are hollow and utterly cynical.

Hit it, Aretha:

* All transcripts here are mine. I'll try to have audio up this weekend. All emphases are mine.


walt sautter said...

After seeing the results of the last election it appears that the only way to gain respect from the public is by being aggressive, belligerent and overbearing.
Maybe NJEA and NJ teachers should take a lesson. No one applauds those who coward from a bully; they cheer those that fight back with a no holds barred attack!
Teachers were good at that in the late 60s and early 70s but since have lost their backbone.
The time has come to regrow a new one otherwise they will continue to be Christie's red meat for as long as he reigns ! http://teachersdontsuck.blogspot.com/ http://wsautter.com/

Anonymous said...

Actually, I was working in my Trenton High School classroom for most of the day on Friday, not at the convention.