Chris Christie went back to his wheelhouse on Saturday. That means attacking teachers, the move that helped gain Christie his early YouTube fame as the kind of bully Republicans can love.
“The single most destructive force for public education in this country is the teachers union,” Christie said at a Jack Kemp Foundation panel discussion in Columbia, S.C., on Saturday. “It is the single most destructive force.”
Not poverty and inequality, which are among the best predictors of school success we have, yet which are ignored by Christie’s corporate education policy crowd. Not school underfunding or swelling class sizes—both things teachers unions fight. No, according to Christie, kids can show up in school hungry after sleeping in the car and sit there in a 40-student class and the teachers union will be the single most destructive force those kids face.
In Seattle, teachers went on strike for elementary school kids to get recess, for limits on standardized testing, for limits on therapist caseloads for special education students, for equity teams to address inequalities in the schools. That’s “the single most destructive force for public education in this country,” according to Christie. When Chicago teachers went on strike in 2012, they were fighting not only for raises and health care but for textbooks on the first day of class and air-conditioning in classrooms. And, faced with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s constant school closures and maintenance so bad that parents are cleaning school bathrooms out of desperation, Chicago teachers have voted to strike again. Because they’re “the single most destructive force for public education in this country” or because they’re fighting for better public education in this country? Chris Christie has his answer.