New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is running hard for a second term, and for a place in the 2016 Republican presidential race.
He’s still the front-runner in his re-election run, thanks to a huge bankroll, celebrity-worship media coverage and the advantages of incumbency. But his once overwhelming poll lead has shrunk a bit as the campaign has come to a close. Where a mid-October Quinnipiac survey gave the governor a thirty-three-point lead over Democrat Barbara Buono, and a Richard Stockton College survey from last week had him up twenty-four points, the latest poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University had him up just nineteen points.
That’s a wide margin. But it is striking that, as the election comes closer, and as Christie dramatically increases his spending and campaigning, his numbers are declining.
Maybe it has something to do with treatment of teachers.
Since becoming governor in 2010, Christie done a lot of yelling at teachers.
Not long after his election, Christie coupled his constant criticism of New Jersey Education Association union members with cuts that have made it harder for the targets of that criticism to do their jobs. “New Jersey public schools have been underfunded by the State by an astonishing $5.2 billion since 2010,” observes Julia Sass Rubin, PhD, an associate professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, who is a founding member of the group Save Our Schools NJ. She goes on:
“This shortfall has been most severe in school districts populated primarily by children of color. For example, the Paterson, Elizabeth, and Newark school districts combined lost over $300 million since 2010. If the New Jersey Supreme Court had not intervened in 2012 to restore some of the funding, the damage would have been even greater. Gov. Chris Christie also tried repeatedly to permanently alter the State’s school funding formula, to reduce funding for the almost 40 percent of New Jersey public school students who are low-income and/or Limited English Proficient.”
When teachers have questioned Christie, he has not responded well.
Early in his tenure, the governor was so belligerent that Marie Corfield, an art teacher at Robert Hunter Elementary School in Flemington, confronted him at a town hall meeting and declared: “New Jersey has some of the best schools in the country, and this administration has done nothing but lambaste us and tell us what horrible schools we have.”