Christie's Strategic Blunder

Prayers for an early death aside, Gov. Christie made an strategic blunder yesterday when he called on the public to vote down school budgets in the vast majority of districts where local unions have not accepted pleas for salary freezes. Bloomberg News reported yesterday that the Governor told reporters in Princeton, “I just don’t see how citizens should want to support a budget where teachers do not want to be a part of the shared sacrifice. That’s my view on it.”

Actually, the public doesn’t need any prodding. It’s likely that many school budgets will fail to pass a week from today and Christie’s incitement to cast a “no” vote just makes him seem churlish and vindictive. Far better that he remain silent and trust in the democratic process (not to mention unprecedented voter anger) to achieve the same result. Anyway, our bizarre process of voting on school budgets (instead of, say, municipal budgets) simply means that failed referenda will be thrust at non-educationally-literate members of town councils who will make some meek suggestions and throw the whole document back at school boards. Who came up with this anyway?

Meanwhile, NJEA President Barbara Keshishian met with Gov. Christie yesterday afternoon for about 15 minutes and, according to The Record, refused to fire Joe Coppola, the president of the Bergen County Education Association, who signed the memo that included the prayer to our Maker to grant a wish for our Governor’s early demise. Technically Keshishian can’t fire Coppola anyway – local associations vote annually for their presidents – though that’s not to say that such a process couldn’t be hustled along. It’s moot anyway. Gracious apology given; apology less graciously accepted. Christie could have looked a whole lot more magnanimous if he’d let it go while the NJEA “prayer” continues its cyberjourney across the country.

He’d also do himself a favor by retracting his suggestion to voters. It’s unnecessarily intrusive and just flat out unnecessary. NJEA’s leaders are doing a fine job on their own looking greedy and out of touch. They don’t need any help from Chris Christie.

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