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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.

ck January 14, 2014 at 02:54 PM
What is happening in our society? It is Quality not Quantity that counts. Parents should ultimately be raising their children , not expecting teachers to do the work . Having children and raising them to be responsible adults is the parents job. Instead of trying to pawn them off on someone else (fore free) be eager to spend time with them, read to them , play with them make wonderful childhood memories with them so when they grow up they can appreciate what youu did for them not what someone else had to do for them. If you are unable to fullfill this parent responsibility then you should not have children. Extended school days/times is not the answer but the parent being home for the child to create memories is. Students get enough time in school as it is, homework for several hours and then they try to fit sports in to the schedule . Many of them are working longer than a 9-5 job . They might as well go get some working papers.
Brian January 14, 2014 at 03:17 PM
A Resident, Firat off, I'm not a teacher, but if my job required me to work more, I'd want more pay. Who would work more for nothing? If you don't have a union backing you and your job, don't knock those jobs that do. Unions built this country. The real issue we have, is how unions are being attacked and done away with, and us allowing it to happen. We have what we have in the workforce because of unions. i.e. weekends, 8 hour days, holidays, 40 hour work weeks, benefits, safe work environments, etc. As a parent, I don't want my kids in school longer. Where is the family time? Where is the time for after school activities and athletic events? How will more homework get done, study, find time to spend with the family, have their own down time, and get any extracurricular activities done?
Victor January 14, 2014 at 03:21 PM
everyone is complaining about more homework but maybe with more class time the homework would be less. I never understood why my kids had so much to do at night, what do they do during the day in class?
A Resident January 14, 2014 at 03:29 PM
@Brian - you are partially correct. But I implore you to find a teaching union that has a 40 hr/ wk contract. Or one where they fairly contribute to benefit plans, i.e. as much as you and I do. And how many months do you get off each year? Those are annual salaries usually based on 180-190 day work years. Kids could be more productive in school but so to could the curriculums be better and more chances for electronic learning. The majority of the money is already all going to the unions, not the kids. You make the point - they will want more, but more isn't available. If it becomes available, it means your taxes are going up but doesn't guarantee any more academic success out of your kids, nor any additional efforts on the part of the educators, just longer time spent there.
i don't get it?? January 14, 2014 at 03:46 PM
These kids have hours of homework in elementary school because teachers are no longer allowed to teach...The curriculum is based on standardized testing, therefore they only teach how to take tests in school and it's up to the parents to teach the important stuff at home...I'm not a teacher and I wasn't taught the same way so now it makes helping with homework a huge fight every day because of the different methods being used.
i don't get it?? January 14, 2014 at 03:47 PM
@Carol S...no problem. :)
Pad January 14, 2014 at 03:57 PM
Yes, most teachers with Masters degrees make well more then 50K unless they just started. Given the actual work hours and the number of work days this is still good. Most teachers get a prep period, lunch etc. What they don't understand is a lot of people outside the teaching profession are on salary also and they work a lot of 10-12 hour days, some weekends and holidays too. Many pay a lot into their health benefits and have no pensions, no tenure and certainly no lifetime health benefits. They live in a dream world most of the time. I know so many individuals who put in 10,20 & even 30 years at a corporation and were laid off, let go w/o benefits, lost their pensions etc. I guess the best part time job in the world may get close to being full time. Our children attend school less then in almost any of the other developed countries. The school calendar was established when farming was the main family income and children had to work at the family farm in the summer. I would like a teacher to divide her actual salary by the hours actually worked, and I guarantee you most are making 60-80 dollars an hour without the cost of benefits added in. I know so many teachers and most are making between 85-105K a year. Its a good job but stop whining all the time. Look around the outside work world is nowhere as secure as you have it.
Brian January 14, 2014 at 04:01 PM
@A Resident, teachers and all other public employees are beginning to pay a fortune for health benefit plans. i.e. Chapter 78 http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/pensions/reform-hb-qa.shtml And a teacher may not be teaching for 40 hours in a week, but they are also doing lesson plans, grading papers, meeting with parents, meeting with students before or after the school day starts/ends, etc. I'm not saying to pay them a fortune. But, they made the choice to do that profession. There is good and bad parts of that profession. But, I'm not willing to knock them for the perks of their job either. And you're right about there is no guarantee of getting anymore academic success out of the kids. So why spend more time in school. I know, when I was a student, I hated school. The day I graduated college was the happiest day of my life. Why put someone like that through extra school? It doesn't mean they will do better. I got by and have a college education, because of my home life. My parents were involved. Is it your fault Camden had 3 kids graduate last year? Should your kids have to do more work because of them? It is a socioeconomic issue. That is the biggest issue with New Jersey's failing schools.
A Resident January 14, 2014 at 04:27 PM
@Brian - you might have misunderstood, no where did I say I supported longer school years, or days. In fact I made clear that unions will object, it will never happen and if it does it doesn't guarantee performance, only increased property taxes. We may be closer to agreeing than you think. I assume you saw the Gov speech and too concur that he does fine in identifying the problems but has no solution to fix them.
Jarhead January 14, 2014 at 04:34 PM
The reason they get the perks of overly generous salary and benefits is because the tax payers pay all their costs and then they use part of those funds ( union dues) to buy democrat politicians. Look at Babbling Barbs Buono's campaign promise to be the "education Governor". Translation : close charter schools, raise taxes and give more benefits to the teacher's union. In exchange for votes. The socioeconomic issue about property tax abuse will not end until we rid the nj supreme court of "progressive" activists! The dems will not let the governor to do this. $ 25,000 per kid in asbury park, with on any day over 50% absenteeism ? How's that public school system working? The poor saps that are forced to pay property taxes to support the public school cartel have to work all year long to afford those taxes. And we don't get the privilege of attending " teachers conventions" in Atlantic City. Or every conceivable " Break". Fall, Winter, Spring and celebrate every conceivable " holiday" ever thought of with a day off from work.Try being a teacher for a day? Try working a full year for a change. No more spring vacations to Disney World? Tough! Welcome to the real world.
Pad January 14, 2014 at 04:36 PM
First of all whatever these teachers are paying for health benefits doesn't even come close to what most pay in the Corporate world and that's without lifetime health benefits. Many in the outside world also take work home and work much longer hours. Grading papers? Maybe if some of these teachers didn't give so much homework they wouldn't be grading so many papers. Its a proven fact that homework really doesn't accomplish much. If you are teaching addition 10 or 20 problems will show if the student is getting it. He doesn't need 100 or more problems to solve. They give so much homework these days kids have no time to be kids. It never stops. The school day really never gives much time to teach anything really well and in depth. Every time you turn around school is closed for this holiday or that holiday, spring break, Christmas break, teachers convention, workshops, a cloud in the sky so it might snow. Its really a joke. School opens they go a day or two and its closed for a holiday again. Most teachers are trampling the students to get out of the building so fast. Yes, a few are dedicated, spend a lot of time but most are always complaining how tough they have it. Go to the outside world where they usually have to worry day to day if they will still be there next week and have a job. I have college educated neighbors in the Corporate world and some have had 5 jobs in 15 years, no pensions and pay several hundred dollars a week into their families health benefits and when they retire it stops. I agree many years ago they were underpaid so it was made up with benefits, now there pay is substantial and there needs to be adjustments. People can't afford their taxes and can't pay no more. Even if the State paid every dollar they should have into the state pension system it would still be underfunded by a billion or two dollars. The unions sold the politicians a bill of goods with the 25/55 pension deal. It was a Ponzi scheme at best. I don't see many leaving the profession and many are trying to get in so it can't be all that bad. The teachers union is selling everyone a bill of goods even the teachers. And these same people who want more & more then go home and complain about the taxes they pay. Well if they get more we ALL have to pay more. What don't they understand? Trenton, Wayne etc. doesn't print money. NJ is in a financial crisis and its a mess and we all have to give up a little. Do you see Detroit declared bankruptcy? What if a state decides to do the same? 3 or 4 states in the last few years have become "right to work states". That could happen here and then the teachers union will have a real problem on their hands
Brian January 14, 2014 at 04:45 PM
Yes, I misunderstood your original comment. I can't stomach our governor. He has his own agenda against the public worker. He is all for lining Cammi Anderson's pockets with $250k a year and taking care of his buddies. Charter schools is just another way to set his friends up. It's a money making business he is in. Then he blames the middle class policemen, firemen, and teachers for the state's fiscal shortcomings. When is he gonna call out the parents of these inner city kids? Put some blame on them for their kid's miserable school performances instead of solely on the public school system.
Rick Ricky January 14, 2014 at 04:58 PM
@Billabong, I totally agree with you. It is quality not quantity. I don't feel my kids would have benefited by extended hours. The school they happen to attend was considered a top school. They barely did anything the hours they were there. Both my kids told me that they learned very little in the entire 12 years of high school. Maybe the schools help lower end kids or those with disabilities. It doesn't do much for the brighter student then other keeping them down. Why should a kid have to wait until someone catches up which may be never. There is some really great teachers out there also some really bad ones that we have to keep. I also agree with have to many administrators that don't do a thing or help. My children told me most of their teachers were lazy and very few they would considered to be good.
Jarhead January 14, 2014 at 05:56 PM
" Right to Work" is the answer to this country's ills. However, it will not happen in nj because the dim bulbs or the public workers outnumber the intelligent voters. A simple solution to the tax crisis in nj would be, bring a property tax bill, paid of course, to the voting booth. No voter ID required. That would eliminate the career welfare cheats and the 18 year old " progressives" from contaminating the election results. What do you think these kids are being brainwashed every day by the teachers union operatives? Look at the elementary school "art" teacher, Marie Corfield. Twice lost elections to the assembly even though being funded by the Extortion Association . Elementary school art teacher? Graduated from Crayloa U? Want to vote? Earn the right. Pay taxes. Serve in the military. Mandatory for those 18 and over. It works for Israel. Could work here if the voters cast their ballots intelligently instead of sustaining the status quo. Send the same tax and spend career trough swillers back into office year after year. Ain't working, and the change is coming.
denise January 14, 2014 at 06:49 PM
It should be an optional choice for each family individually and not a law.... As it is now there is no time for famy or to learn about how to live love and be a homeowner ..... Spending time at home is vitally important and kids now go to school , activity after school , homework eat and go to bed..... It's a stressful rat race and the kids need to get more free time to be free thinkers and entrepreneurs and philosophers and develop artistic and life skills..... Super educated robots can't even cook a meal/bake a cake or fix their own car/home repair .... Have never been out of the state, traveling seeing different cultures rudimentary living.... Only so much forced learning and book learning is retained, but hands on experience in interacting with people is. Choice , not law! Ask your kids .... Think back when you were a kid! Summers are needed like sleep is needed.... This is a sadistic horrible proposal !!! It's like drafting kids into the governments army!!!!
Ridgewood Mom January 14, 2014 at 06:55 PM
The best things about Christie is that he doesn't try to reason with idiots who disagree with him. He just tells them to shut up. He's not a bully. And it serves those teachers right that he wants to make them work longer hours for less pay, considering that they haven't been supporting him in politics. I could just never believe about him that he could ever be involved in a scandal that involved closing lanes to a bridge in order to enact retribution on someone who didn't support his campaign.
Ridgewood Mom January 14, 2014 at 07:04 PM
I'll add that it is my hope that Christie can find a way to replace the whole greedy teacher force with a job core of low paid, inexperienced, untrained teachers whom we can demand meet impossibly stringent standards of learning with their students in dire circumstances, and then fire and replace them with fresh young blood every year to keep costs from pay raises down. Better yet, we should just call Manpower and staff the schools with temp workers. I want to send my children to such schools. That way I can spend less time at home with them and more of my time at work making lower wages and watching my own "private sector" benefits continue to decrease.
chris January 14, 2014 at 07:23 PM
He stated longer school days just to get off the Bridge subject.. it worked. obama had the same idea back in 2009> and some other senator had the idea also in 1987.
pat January 14, 2014 at 07:53 PM
Oh come onnn. We're not china, more ppl will homeschool
Hardieharr January 14, 2014 at 08:01 PM
Yes most of china never make it to middle school but the sheep hear in the US believe they educate everyone. It's called "not smart enough now your a laborer for the rest of your life."
George Murphy January 14, 2014 at 08:18 PM
This is a universe-sized issue. There are so many moving parts that is next to impossible for anyone here to be totally right, or totally wrong. When I comment on any matter, I try to step back, and look objectively, and, pragmatically at the same. Everyone here has made at least one valid point because so much is at stake. There are many more moving parts to this than there are in a brick. I was a teacher in the fine arts. Nonetheless, teachers in every domain are held to the same stringent standards, which are clearly the result of Mr Bush's debacle: NCLB. (I was a Bush supporter, too) He was not an educator and with this disaster, it became very clear to me! Now the discussion here is in regards to the duration of the school day / year. We must refrain from the weightlessness of the bridge story because - and like so many other news items - it clearly takes away from our focal points. I do not condone a longer school year, but I do not believe that we need so many gaps and breaks from September through June, either. Give the teachers a 12-month contract, no conventions and long vacations during the school year, but pay them a decent, full-year professional salary! Allow them to work for five to six weeks into the summer with reasonable vacation time and let them seek professional development during this period, and not whilst they are "very, very busy" trying to educate children, conferring and dealing with parents, grading papers and trying to keep up with the liberal union standards that do more harm to the teachers than good. This in addition to falling under the weight of NCLB and much of the corrupt school board and administration policies.
WC509 January 14, 2014 at 09:27 PM
This will never work in this day and age for several reasons. First one being many school buildings in this state would cost a fortune to air condition which will be required because those old brick buildings are like ovens in June July and August. Second - the teachers at contract time will be asking for thousands extra per year to extend the calendar. Third is the tourism industry in the state will take a big hit because there will be less people visiting because the kids are in school longer during the vacation season. Fourth is the property taxes will have to increase because of the added expense of increased salaries - adding AC to all the schools having the buildings with the AC running non stop and having to pay the janitors - cafeteria people and all other employeees - sub teachers - busdrivers etc extra
George Murphy January 14, 2014 at 09:49 PM
WC - valid points, and well taken, too! It seems like a big pill to swallow, but if the education system is falling short of the mark (pun intended), then some serious changes need to take place, and soon. Bottom line: The system as we know it, is a failure.
George Murphy January 14, 2014 at 09:54 PM
Brian - I do agree with you on making the inner-city folks more responsible, but you and I both know how that will pan out. I know it is not unlike the GOPers to cap the union workers, but don't forget that the Corzine types were always very generous with everyone else's monies - never their own!
Brian January 15, 2014 at 12:30 AM
George, if the inner-city parents don't take responsibility, which we know they won't if they do not already, it will still pan out the same way. It isn't the school system that is a failure. Sure there are some bad teachers. 100%, there is no hiding it. I don't know that for a fact, but there has to be. You can't have thousands upon thousands of teachers and all of them be average to excellent. That is common sense. On the flip side, logic tells you that there must be plenty of great ones as well. If they have no standards to meet at home, it will always be a losing battle. Heck, when a kid gets suspended from school and sees it as no big deal, "it is x numbers of days off from school", instead of "oh no, my parents are going to kill me", that is a problem.
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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