Transcript: Diane Sawyer Interviews New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie


Here's what I want to do. I know people are scared 'cause we're talking about change. But we can't allow the fear to be able to stand in the way of what we need to do for kids. I met with a teacher. I'm having small, private teacher conversations all over New Jersey, had one yesterday and the teacher said to me, "I'm willing to do whatever I need to do to help make this situation better for the kids and, governor, we need change in this system." And she's right.

What I'm saying is earn tenure after three years, that's fine, but continue to be evaluated every year. And if you're found to be ineffective, then you lose tenure and you have to earn it back. I mean, listen, it's the same thing in your business and my business, Diane. We get judged every day. Every day. And if you're judged to be ineffective, ABC's not keeping you on the air. And if I'm judged to be ineffective, New Jersey voters are gonna kick me out.

Why is it that teaching is one of the only professions left where we don't reward excellence and there are no consequences for failure? That's not what America's all about. I want to reward great teachers and pay them more. But I will not stand for incompetence in front of the classroom, 'cause that hurts kids. And that's what the unions are protecting.

DIANE SAWYER: You are a student of tone and message in public life. And I have heard teachers say, including, by the way, some at this school-- Teachers at this school say, "I just don't hear that he respects us. I know he wants. He says he's differentiating between the issues with the unions and how he feels about teachers. And my mom was a 30-year teacher, all my aunts were teachers. And to hear things as we've heard last year in town meetings, [saying] 'I have no interest in answering your question,' to a teacher that, [saying] 'Then you don't have to teach' to a teacher." Did you go too far? Did you go too tough? Do you want to apologize to the teachers if your tone seemed disrespectful to them?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Well, I don't want to apologize to those teachers. Because the one who I said, "I have no interest in answering your question," is [one who], after I listened to a 45-second question where she insulted me throughout and mischaracterized my record, when I began to answer she rolled her eyes, snickered and walked away.

Well, you know what, Diane? Here's the deal with me and all these tone issues. If you treat me with respect even when you disagree with me, I'll treat you with respect back. You treat me with disrespect, that's what you're gonna get back. And I ask the teachers, let me say really clearly: On election night, one of the few people I thanked on election night were my teachers from Livingston where I grew up, here in New Jersey.

DIANE SAWYER: But [what] if some of them feel bruised by, however you intended it, by what they're hearing all the time?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Here's what I say to them: that I believe that teachers in New Jersey deserve a union as good as they are and they don't have one. And they should start demanding to get a union as good as they are. Because I believe the teachers in New Jersey, in the main, are wonderful public servants that care deeply. But their union. Their union are a group of political thugs.

DIANE SAWYER: Have you seen what it is to be CC'd?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Yes, I have. I have.


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