A teachable moment

A woman whose identity is unknown but who identified herself as a teacher “scared to death” to talk to Chris Christie briefly changed the abrasive tone of New Jersey’s conversation about education Monday.

The woman, whose face graces the front page of today’s Star-Ledger newspaper, spoke from the audience during the governor’s “town hall” meeting in Kearney. “I just wish our dialogue could become a dialogue, an open and honest exchange that doesn’t resort to name-calling and fear,” she said.


Not only did Christie refrain from calling her an “idiot,” as he did a critic of his proposed merger of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan universities; he also cordially received her suggestion to "work together” with the New Jersey Education Association, whose leadership he often delights in disparaging.

The NJEA, it should be said, is quite capable of responding in kind. And as some of the reactions to my recent “walk in a teacher’s shoes” column suggest, Christie may find it difficult to quit feeding anti-union feelings that help fuel his campaign for corporate reform of public education.

New Jersey teachers, when not being assailed for their purportedly posh bennies, often get blamed for student shortcomings that seem to have far more to do with home life than homework.

One would think Christie and other conservatives might be troubled by the notion that public schools (i.e., The Government) are failing at what’s essentially the job of parents.

PHOTO: Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger