In Secaucus, Christie says state seeks exit from ‘No Child Left Behind’

SECAUCUS AND BEYOND — Gov. Chris Christie and Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf were in Secaucus today to propose an education reform agenda for the state as part of its recent application for a waiver from No Child Left Behind (NCLB), a federal plan that imposes strict standards on schools. The state is one of 11 seeking relief from provisions in NCLB.
“There are hundreds of schools in this state where we are engaged in a moral crisis, where kids are not being given an equal chance at success,” said Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf. Cerf said the release from the NCLB provisions would provide greater financial flexibility and allow the state to get out of the “handcuffs” of how it uses school funds, which are currently at $25 billion a year.
“We are the state that is in the bottom four in terms of the achievement gap between those who are most well off and those who are most challenged,” said Christie. “We are not meeting our obligations to these children.”
Christie did acknowledge that the state ranks at the top of achievement levels nationally and that it has outstanding teachers, which he said Secaucus is an example of. Secaucus is also part of a pilot program for a statewide educator evaluation system that is part of the School Children First Act bill, which evaluates teachers partly on how well students do on standardized testing and partly on classroom observations.
Christie’s plan pushes forward four bills previously put forth in the legislature including: the School Children First Act (S-2881/A-4168; Charter Reform Bill (A-4167); Opportunity Scholarship Act (S-1872/A-2810); and the Urban Hope Act (S-3002/A-4264).
“I think the governor is making headway in the kind of reform we need here in the state of New Jersey. I think his position of lending more support to districts in need is very important,” said Superintendent of Schools Cynthia Randina. Mayor Michael Gonnelli said he needed more details on the proposals before he could take a position but that he felt the governor believes strongly in education reform.

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