Christie To Call For Longer School Calendar In State Of State Speech

Governor expected to address 'Bridgegate' scandal in his State of the State speech inside the Assembly chambers in Trenton

Gov. Chris Christie will call for a longer public school day - and longer school year - as he makes education a cornerstone of his second term and steers away from the "Bridgegate" scandal that's dogged his administration, according to excerpts of the State of the State speech.

Saying that the current school calendar is not reflective of the times, the governor’s proposal to lengthen school days and the school year is expected to be short on details, which he promises to deliver the state Legislature Tuesday afternoon.

What's not clear is how he expects to address the political-retribution scandal involving the closure of George Washington Bridge lanes back in September. Christie apologized for the scandal last week and fired one of his chief aides.

Christie will address both houses of the 216th state legislature in the Assembly chambers. He is scheduled to deliver his remarks at 3 p.m.

“Our school calendar is antiquated both educationally and culturally,’’ Christie says in the excerpt of the speech obtained by Patch. “Life in 2014 demands something more for our students. It is time to lengthen both the school day and the school year in New Jersey.’’

Students in New Jersey are required to attend school 180 days a year, although some districts extend that and some charter also extend the school days or school years to help students catch up.

“This is a key step to improve student outcomes, and boost competitiveness,’’ the excerpt reads. “We should do it now.’’

With the proposal, Christie joins a national movement believing that more time in the classroom will yield better results for American students, who perform solidly average when compared to students in other industrialized countries. President Obama also has called for more classroom time for American students.

But critics say longer school days puts an additional burden on teachers – that schools need more resources more than a additional instruction time.

It was not immediately known how the New Jersey Education Association, the powerful teachers union that has had an adversarial relationship with Christie, views the proposal.

A M January 15, 2014 at 12:11 PM
I believe Christie has a point about our educational system. We are falling behind other countries and its not just the parents fault or the teachers or the students or the government. Its all of them. Countries such as China put education first and foremost because they believe it is the only way to get ahead in this world. So do parents in India. They are unyielding when it comes to their children doing outstanding in the school system. They do not not allow for any excuses. They expect their children to get straight A's and if their is a so called problem with the teacher they will go to the school till the problem is resolved. They do not make excuses for their children. We as a society constantly make excuses on why our children aren't doing well. We become defensive and blame everyone. I know, I was one of them. I realized I was not hard enough on my children and I should have stepped up more. I'm not saying it was all me. I've dealt with teachers who truly cared and teachers who had tenure that would sit there painting their nails during class and not teach one thing because they felt they could do whatever they wanted because of that tenure. My children have gone to schools whose Super made almost $200k a year but they didn't have money in the budget for the chorus to go on a day trip to NY. Anybody hear of fund raising anymore? Or cutting expenses? The other countries go to school almost year round and some from sun up to sun down. That's dedication. Wonder why we are falling behind. We as a collective need to start making education a priority again and stop making excuses. Just saying
Andy Schmidt January 15, 2014 at 12:50 PM
AM, good points - I have observed the same by direct comparison. For many parents a bigger priority seems to be how early to take kids out of school to optimize their times at Disney and/or other fun times, instead of respecting school calendar as the equivalent of a job: You don't just walk away for convenience. In this country, kids learn early on, that school is not as important as fun - and will remember that as they turn into teens when they decide to skip school or whether to apply themselves - just as their parents implicitly taught them. Since the beginning of time, kids are "adults in training" - like with every species in the world. By the time they were grown up, they needed to have learned and practiced the hunting, gathering, farming, animal care,... skills from their parents to sustain their own families some day. For young children, it was by game play, and as they got older there were increasing responsibilities - year round. Nowadays, hunting, gathering, farming, etc. has been replaced with engineering, fabrication, accounting, programming,... to sustain one's family. There is no reason why (age appropriate) learning should suddenly be limited to just a small fraction of time, or why expecting them to engage themselves for a good portion of the day would suddenly be inhuman in the 21st century? Parents and family still have evenings, weekends and the weeks that the parents get paid vacations, to supplement the formal learning with unstructured activities. And, lets not forget, schools are also the place for social interaction during and between classes - these are not the schools of 1900, where pupils fear getting the rulers on their back for speaking during lessons. I know of many kids who are EAGER to get back to school and spending time with their peers, as the long summer vacations seem to drag on... Homework is an opportunity where kids learn to manage their own responsibilities, budget time, prioritize activities, etc. In addition, they find out if they are able to apply what they (thought) they learned completely on their own. It's an important tool that parents should expect and support - not decry.
Billabong January 16, 2014 at 07:47 AM
Andy Schmidt, I think you're missing the point of outside learning. While my kids usually have excellent attendance records at school, I will never view school as their "job." If there's an opportunity for a unique fun learning experience outside of school, I'm all for it. First of all, we're far from the family that can afford an annual Disney vacation (which is a small fortune) but we did take our kids out of school this year to do Disney for the first time ever. We saved for 6 years and our kids saved their own money as well during that time. They were taught that they had to use only their own spending money during the trip and learned to save, budget, and be responsible for their own prepaid debit card. I also tried to teach the value of being patient and saving rather than using credit, which has become the black hole of this country. We also spoke to their teachers about the work we could take with us, so as not to fall far behind. Now, there was plenty of fun of course, but there was plenty of education at the World Showcase in Epcot, conservation at Animal Kingdom and Sea World and how to properly wield a lightsaber and fight Darth Vader at Hollywood Studios. I guess what I'm getting at is that educating your kids goes way beyond school. School is an important aspect, but there are opportunities outside the classroom that are just as valuable. Christie is pushing time as being proportional to the quality of learning. I believe he's wrong. It's not time, it's maximizing the opportunities to teach kids, which are already numerous each and every day.
Ridgewood Mom January 16, 2014 at 08:31 AM
Excellent point Billabong. There is something very deceptive, albeit well crafted, about the wordings used in all of this "data driven" learning aimed at "preparing for the careers of tomorrow" jargon that many have trouble making sense of. Only a small percentage of the various things that a person can learn are learned best via the method of gluing students in a classroom and drilling them. It is also dubious whether there is much value to be had by individual students, or society, in increasing the duration of such a narrow learning method. Particularly in consideration of the necessitated loss of so many more important enriching experiences that a child may have.
Ridgewood Mom January 16, 2014 at 08:34 AM
It ought to be pointed out, I think, that it is a mistake that many conflate the topic of better student learning with the matter of today's increased demands for parents to spend more time in their workplace, to make ends meet, and the challenges of acquiring and affording adequate child care when parents must work. They are both important topics, no doubt, but are entirely different sorts of reasonings that should be considered independently of one another.


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