UPDATE: For the complete story, go here.
LOWER TWP. - Gov. Christie continued his push this afternoon for firing poorly-performing teachers, paying good teachers more money and allowing students in bad districts to go to other schools.
And he portrayed the teachers' unions as the biggest obstacle to his desired reforms - a "bully" made up of "moneyed special interests who benefit personally from the system at the expense of the children."
Much of Christie's statements echoed remarks he has previously made, but unlike other town halls, where he touches on various gripes with the Democratic-controlled Legislature, Christie's speech today focused exclusively on education.
Before the speech, which was held in the hangar of an aviation museum in Cape May County, State Sen. President Stephen Sweeney said Christie's "comments regarding teachers are horribly misleading and his name calling tactics are wearing thin."
Christie blames the teachers' unions' refusal to allow teachers to vote on a plan to freeze their salaries as part of the reason why there were budget cuts and layoffs this school year. But, Sweeney said: "He continues to fail to acknowledge that his billion dollar educational cuts are what caused teacher layoffs. His statements connecting layoffs to pay freezes are just plain wrong. Most importantly, he is creating an atmosphere where those who educate our children are being labeled as the enemy."
During a question-and-answer session, a Lower Township school teacher asked why state employees and elected officials get state-funded vehicles. Christie said it was a "good question" - then he asked three elected Democrat state legislators in the audience if they had free cars. They did not.
Christie pivoted back to school reform, saying: "I want to stop this union madness of saying everything is fine [in the schools]."