Christie Clashes with Charter School Opponents in New Jersey

After New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law a new charter school expansion policy in the state that permits nonpublic schools to be converted into charter schools, his administration has met opposition and support from every corner of the state.

At a town hall meeting in Cherry Hill, Christie was confronted by a vocal opponent to the planned charter school in the district, writes Joe Cooney at the Asbury Park Press.

About an hour into the meeting, Cherry Hill resident Alan Erlich interrupted Christie, and as the confrontation began, emotions quickly ran high.

“I don’t have a solution for every problem,” Christie said to Erlich.

“You had an opportunity to speak before. Here’s the bottom line: I don’t have a solution for everything.”

After Erlich accused the governor of passing the charter school’s proposal because the group was a Christie supporter, the governor lost his temper.

“It’s guys like you who are rude and yell out in the middle when I’m trying to answer this woman’s question that does not allow for civil discourse in this state,” the governor said, referring to the fact that the exchange came in the middle of an answer he was giving to another attendee.

“Let me tell you something,” Christie continued, “If you don’t like the answer, I’m sorry. That’s the answer.”

Despite losing his cool, the Governor wrapped up meeting calmly.

Erlich said afterwards:

“Him calling me rude didn’t bother me.

“He called me rude, I called him a liar. What bothered me is that he’s still avoiding the questions asked of him about the charter schools.”

The charter school is set to open in September for K-4 students from Cherry Hill, Voorhees, Lawnside and Somerdale. Regis Academy’s initial funding includes $1.9 million from the Cherry Hill district and about $725,500 from Voorhees, which has been met with much contempt by locals, who say the publicly funded charter school will divert badly needed tax dollars from local districts.

Christie has, in the past, looked to appease charter school opponents by looking at legislation that would require local approval for such schools.

“My belief is that we should be focusing on charter schools in failing school districts,” Christie said at the meeting.

“I do not believe that charter schools are best suited in districts, in general, that are successful districts.”