Coalition forming behind Christie's school takeover, but there is skepticism

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie addresses the New Jersey Conference on Tourism in Atlantic City, N.J., Wednesday, March 20, 2013. Christie talked about the rebuilding process after Superstorm Sandy and about some elements of the Jersey Shore that may not be able to rebuild. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Response is trickling in after our scoop last night about Gov. Christie's plan to take over the Camden school district. Colleague Claudia Vargas is reporting that school board members are either luke warm or flat-out opposed to the idea -- or something in between. School Board President Kathryn Blackshear, for example, says she is "disheartened," but will nonetheless stand in support of the takeover: Christie is “going to do it his way...there’s nothing I can do about it."

Opposition from education and community activists is expected to be strong. Those arguments, embodied in this blog post here, are that the state's three other school district takeovers have been failures -- and that the state's motives are racial and economic, not altruistic.

A source close to the takeover deal has provided a list of the political names in support, beginning with school board members Blackshear, Felisha Reyes-Morton and Barbara Coscarello.

The rest of the names provided are part of the South Jersey Democratic crew, which has worked closely and even collaboratively with Republican Christie: State Sen. Donald Norcross, Assemblyman Whip Wilson, Assemblyman Angel Fuentes, Camden County Freeholder Scot McCray, Camden County Freeholder Ian Leonard, Camden Mayor Dana Redd and Camden city council members Frank Moran, Curtis Jenkins, Dana Burley, Deborah Person-Polk and Marilyn Torres.  

And U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, who represents the city, released this statement in support: "No one can be certain that the new leadership team will succeed in providing the dramatic improvements the students need and deserve. But we can be certain that a truly collaborative effort that enlists the best ideas of community members, educators, and students and their families, is urgently needed...In particular, I will work to assure that all federal resources necessary to assure the success of this initiative are provided. In this venture, there will be no Democrats and Republicans -- only people strongly committed to a high quality education for all of Camden's children."

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