Surprise Guest: Michelle Rhee, "who is sitting next to Mary Pat...Michelle, I want you to count NJ among those who are finally putting students first." (Cute plug!)
Abbott Allusion: "We must end the myth that more money equals better education. It is a failed legal theory."
Biggest applause line: "In NJ over 100,000 students are stuck in over 200 chronically failing schools... This is an unacceptable situation and we must change it now."
Tenure Reform: "We must reward the best teachers based on merit...We must have lay-offs based on performance, not seniority... Give schools more power to remove under-performing teachers. Teaching must not be the only profession where you have no rewards for excellence and no consequences for failure. The time to end tenure is now."
NJ Has Three Big Challenges:
1) We must stick to the force of fiscal discipline.
2) We must reform our pension and benefits system.
3) We must reform our schools to make them the best in America.
But The Biggest Challenge Is: "We cannot ask students and families stuck in chronically failing schools to wait any longer. We must give children and parents a choice to attend a better school. "
NJEA Swipe: "You know the debate has changed when the teacher union starts talking about tenure reform.”
Update: Here's Gov. Christie's full remarks, here's NJ School Boards' response, and here's NJEA's response.