More Vintage Christie: Destiny Should Not Be Determined by Zip Code

On June 22nd, Governor Christie hosted his 20th town hall meeting of 2011, in the town of Fair Lawn, New Jersey. As usual, the Governor presents some very clear statistics about how wasteful government-run education has been in New Jersey.

One town in New Jersey spends ~$30,000 per student, and fewer than 50% of those high school students can do math at an eighth-grade level.

For comparison, the annual tuition for a day student at one of the most prestigious prep schools in the world, Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, is $32,200.

Talk about an inefficient use of resources.


About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Finance executive, engineer, former military officer, and science fiction and horror writer. Editor of the Weird World War III anthology.
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10 Responses to More Vintage Christie: Destiny Should Not Be Determined by Zip Code

  1. The state could just lower its expectations as to what constitutes math at an eight grade level. If we leave no child behind, the standard must be that of the lowest child.

  2. Vern R. Kaine says:

    Hail St. Christie!

  3. jlhartman says:

    You’re comparing apples and oranges here. Rational thinkers will quickly realize that the costs of educating a poor, non-native English speaking student with a learning disability from a single-parent home will be greater than educating a wealthy child with parents rich enough to pay $30,000 out of pocket each year to send their children to “one of the most prestigious prep schools in the world”. Swap the Jersey students and families with the Philips ones and you’ll see a reversal of both results and costs as the academy suddenly has to provide before and after-school care, speech specialists, special education teachers, and even breakfast for their students.

  4. Chris Van Trump says:

    You can alter the culture of the school all you like; replace the teachers, the curriculum, the administrators, and in the end, you will achieve minimal results in those school districts which chronically under-perform.

    Because it’s not the culture of the school that’s causing the problem.

    Could it be improved? Certainly. And despite much of the teacher griping about NCLB, the program did show positive results in that direction.

    The educational achievements in charter schools may often seem to be a result of a different educational culture in the school. And there may indeed be some effect there, but the biggest change is not in the curriculum, but in the students themselves.

    Ultimately the root of the issue lies in the home, not in the school. In the culture that the child is immersed in, not the one that we try to impose on them while they’re attending class. Teacher accountability is only half the equation; parent and child accountability needs to factor in, or these groups will never reach the same level as their peers. In a charter school, you are preselecting for parents who CARE what happens to their children; that makes vastly more difference than any change in the curriculum ever will.

    How one could impose parent accountability, of course, is a significant question.

    • Chris,

      You hit the nail on head. I completely agree. Parents should be held more accountable for their children’s education.

      • Chris Van Trump says:

        It’s been interesting for me seeing the different approaches our last two presidents have had towards education.

        Bush, with No Child Left Behind, imposed an accountability system and penalized schools that failed to perform adequately.

        Obama, with Race to the Top, attempted to bribe states that promised to improve their school staff and curriculum.

        Neither approach has shown itself to be especially effective; NCLB did improve overall performance slightly, but its unrealistic goals also created an incentive to states to simply set the requisite standards as low as they could, so as not to be penalized by the federal government. RTTT, on the other hand, has been greeted by the states with… a rather mixed reaction at best, with many states simply opting out of the bidding process rather than attempt to compete for the education dollars theoretically at stake.

        Delaware, of course, was a first round winner, for $100,000,000.

        Of the two programs, for some reason RTTT actually manages to irritate me more than NCLB.

        NCLB at least had the virtue of being relatively straightforward; perform, or face termination. It was an unpleasant way of addressing some of the problems that plague the education community, but those problems DO EXIST, and frankly mostly revolve around the power of the teacher’s union, and the idea that it’s not performance that’s rewarded under the typical union system, but simple seniority.

        RTTT, however, simply throws money at the problem, based on rather vague promises from the states to make what are fundamentally superficial changes to their educational systems.

        Part of the problem with throwing money at schools is that it can often be used… rather poorly.

        For example: Five elementary schools in San Antonio recently installed a system of cameras in the lunch line, designed to record what the students are eating in order to find out how many calories are being consumed, which foods the students prefer, and so on.

        The cost of this system? Two million dollars. Funded by the Department of Agriculture, so rest assured, you paid your share. Or you will eventually.

        Two million dollars to answer questions whose answers are, frankly, rather obvious. Kids like to eat the same sort of high-sugar, high-fat foods that one would expect. Those foods will be eaten in preference to other foods. Vegetables will, more likely than not, be the food most often left behind on the plate. If given the opportunity to overeat, most humans will.

        The simple solution to the lunch line problem? The same solution that evidently was in effect during my tenure in elementary school: Serve one specific meal. Offer no choices. No snack or soda machines on the premises. Children can eat the school lunch, bring their own lunch, or go hungry.

        And that would actually SAVE money, in less wasted food, less preparation time, and reduced staffing and energy costs. Yes, there would be a loss of revenue from the soda/snack machines, but frankly we shouldn’t be attempting to profit from the poor dietary habits of our children in the first place.

  5. Alan Scott says:

    Governor Christie left out specifics . Exactly why are certain schools failing and what specifically will he do about it . I would believe that there are basic measurable parts where kids begin to fail . Each teacher is dependent on the job the previous grade teacher did with the kids . There have to be gaps in the grade ladder for whatever reason that kids are not being educated .

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