Christie Takes on Unions, Democrats At School Choice Conference

JERSEY CITY, N.J.-New Jersey governor Chris Christie gave an impassioned address at an education conference here Thursday, asking plainly why urban families vote for Democrats if they don't support more school options for students in failing school districts.

"I don't want to make this partisan, but let's face it," said Christie at the School Choice Now National Policy Summit. "I say this in urban communities all the time, 'You continue to vote for these folks and put them in office and they continue to not address the needs of your families and your children.' What need could be more primary than the need for an education in the 21st century?"

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal will address the same conference, sponsored by the American Federation for Children, a national advocacy organization that supports school vouchers, on Thursday evening. Jindal, Christie and Indiana governor Mitch Daniels are all advocates of school choice as well as top veepstakes lists. But national politics wasn't overtly on the agenda. Instead, Christie focused on taking on the state's teachers' union and state Democrats that he believes are standing in the way of getting more charter schools and helping to fix failing schools in this state.

Christie employed his tough talking style throughout his speech, one that would undoubtedly be used if Mitt Romney did choose him as his running mate. "Why not trust the families?" Christie asked. "The mothers, the fathers, the grandmothers, the grandfathers of these children to choose for them how to best become prepared to break the cycle of poverty?"

He promised to fight with families who want to get their children out of failing schools in urban, poverty-stricken areas such as Newark and Camden, plainly stating he will take on anyone standing in his way to accomplish it.

"When you're governor and you walk out into the schoolyard called Trenton," Christie said, "and you see a whole bunch of people laying on the ground all bloody, you see one guy standing, leaning up against the fence with his arms folded and a smug smile on his face, you know that's the bully. And you can decide, if you are the new boss in town, whether you are going to sidle up next to the bully, whisper sweet nothings into his ear and hope he doesn't punch you too, or you walk up to him with a big smile on your face and punch him first."

Christie continued to cheers, "I made my choice a long time ago, everybody. There's no going back, they don't forget being punched first. There's no going back nor would I want to."

For the second time, he mentioned his Republican allies in Louisiana, Indiana and Florida and pledged to keep "fighting" to make New Jersey "one of those places like Louisiana, like Indiana, like Florida who have stepped up to the plate to make a difference in every child's life, not just a select few."

He ended the address by telling the audience of school choice proponents, "If you are ready to fight with me, I'm ready to fight with you" and promising them if they are not victorious in the next 59 days of the state legislature, he will "identify every person who is responsible for stopping us."