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

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

@GovChristie's Bridgegate Distraction: Shafting Students and Teachers

Whenever Chris Christie needs a distraction, he goes to his fallback position: screwing teachers, students, and schools
Republican Gov. Chris Christie, dealing with a political payback scandal that threatens to damage his second term, intends to unveil a plan to increase the amount of time children spend in public school in his State of the State message on Tuesday.
The governor, widely seen as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, will propose lengthening the school day and the school year, according to excerpts of the speech, which were obtained by The Associated Press.
Christie says children who spend more time in school are better prepared academically. He’s expected to leave details of the proposal, which are being worked out with Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, for another day. [emphasis mine]
One of those pesky details: how are you going to pay for it?

There's not a doubt in my mind that Christie will want to teachers to work longer for no additional money - this after having already degraded the value of our pensions and benefits, after forcing us to pay more for health care, and after essentially capping wages by imposing the property tax cap.

How much more are we expected to give? How much more are our families expected to sacrifice because we chose to be teachers? But even leaving that aside, consider the following:

- Does Christie have a plan to install air conditioning in every classroom in the state? If not, does he expect teachers to teach and students to learn in the summer without it? Will he turn off his own air conditioning in solidarity if he can't come up with a way to pay for it?

- Too many of NJ's students are trapped in unhealthy, dangerous classrooms.

Now he wants them there longer hours in the hot summer months?

- Christie's own children attend a school where they get three full months off in the summer - that's less than many other NJ public schools. Of course, his kids can take advantage of a wide variety of summer enrichment activities (they can also get summer jobs - are we going to deny that to NJ's teenagers now?). What does Christie want NJ's kids doing - more drill-and-kill while his own kids are down the shore?

- Do parents really want this? Undoubtedly, extra time at school is good for children who don't have other good options. But many parents - myself included - are worried that suburban kids are getting burned out. My kids have enough going on as it is, what with sports and music and extracurriculars and church and jobs and lord knows what else. How about giving them a break?

Here's a fact: teachers work 5/6 of the weeks similarly credentialed and educated workers do, yet make only 2/3 of the pay. The notion that lazy, greedy teachers are getting summers off is nonsense: summer is an unpaid furlough. Many teachers work during the summer; many schools offer a summer program that provides supplemental instruction and enrichment. Let's expand that, but let's also figure out how we're going to pay for it.

Until Christie presents a serious proposal to do just that, let's call this what it is: a distraction.

Stop asking me about Bridgegate and get back to work!


Giuseppe said...

Teachers, public schools and the NJEA are the official punching bags and sacrificial goats of NJ (of the whole nation actually). You can bet that extending the day and the year will be an unfunded mandate. It sounds good until you get into the details and the small print. Christie will also launch a renewed assault against tenure and LIFO. I can just imagine the thugs on NJ101.5 touting the benefits of a longer school day and year because those lousy teachers have it too easy. Excuse me while I vomit.

alm said...

Offering students more time in school is 'shafting' students? Really?

Giuseppe said...

I can't imagine that school boards, school administrators, principals and even superintendents will be thrilled to have yet another unfunded mandate forced on their school systems and with no input from those directly affected by having a longer day and year. Of course, if anyone raises the slightest objection to a longer day or year, they will be shouted down, disgraced, humiliated and smeared as defenders of the status quo and enemies of "innovation." It all sounds so innocent and benign but the devils are in the details and shouldn't the folks who will have to work longer hours and days have some input???????

Giuseppe said...

Question: Why are we even talking about lengthening the school day or year in already successful school districts? And in the struggling school districts the problem is not the length of the school day or year, the problem is poverty, crime, violence, gangs and lack of timely health care. How about free health clinics in poverty stricken cities, more police protection and how about fixing the decaying school buildings? How about more teachers, more counselors, more child study teams, more school libraries, music teachers, art teachers, etc., in the beleaguered school districts before we even talk about lengthening the school day/ year.

Giuseppe said...

The lengthening of the school day or year is just a red herring, distraction and deflection from the more important issues like overcrowded classrooms, decaying infrastructure and lack of support for kids with all kinds of learning/emotional/behavioral problems.

Donna said...

This is NONSENSE!! Our kids deserve to be kids, who has the right to take away their childhood?? I don't want my kids to be in school longer days & more days....I want my kids to have time to be kids. I want time to be with my kids instead of waiting hours for the homework to be done. Longer school days means less after school activities including all important socializing, less outside time with parents when parents get out of work. I do not want my kids to give up their summers. Who is HE to take this away???!!!
PARENTS need to be HEARD too.

Unknown said...

Don't take the bait. This is strategy to get Christie's critics arguing amongst themselves. Education suddenly needs ____________ (fill in the blank) when the 1%ers rot of corruption is exposed.

The longer school day ploy was one Rahm deployed when he was trying to deflect attention from public anger over his neglect of Chicago Public Schools.

Unknown said...

Chicago Teachers shot back and said- 'We want a BETTER School day.'