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Are NJ Schools Failure Factories? Not Even Close

11/04/2013 07:54AM ● By Rebecca K. Abma

Tweet Pic by @daveweigel

Why does Gov. Chris Christie continue to portray New Jersey Public Schools as “failure factories”? That question was posed to the governor on Saturday by Buena Regional Middle School teacher Melissa Tomlinson during a campaign stop in Somers Point.

 The encounter quickly went viral after Slate political reporter and MSNBC contributor David Weigel tweeted a photo of an angry looking Christie wagging a finger at Tomlinson with the caption “And the rally ends, inevitably, with Christie arguing with a teacher.” (You can read Weigel's account of the incident, along with accompanying photos on

The pix was picked up by bloggers and news outlets alike including, the Washington Post,  and the Jersey Jazzman. Tomlinson even posted an Open Letter to Gov. Christie

All the above links are worth a read, but for those short on time, here's the quick summary: 

Her version: "I asked 'Why are you portraying our schools as failure factories?' He responded, 'What do you want? I’m tired of you people.' A brief argument over public school funding ensued, then the governor told me to do my job and turned around and got on the bus." 

His version: "They were having a discussion about the (education) funding levels and the governor said that no matter how much money we spend, it will never be enough for you people," Christie's Spokesperson Maria Comella told

Regardless of what you believe in the he said/she said that surrounds the photo, the question of the health of New Jersey Public Schools needs to be addressed. 

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, New Jersey schools are ranked among in the top 10% in the county based on test scores. In 2011, the latest scores available, New Jersey fourth graders ranked 2nd in the nation in reading and 4th in math and eighth graders ranked 2nd in reading and and 3rd in math. Don't take my word for it, view the Nation's Report Card State Comparisons

So the question remains, why does Gov. Christie continue to call New Jersey schools failures when they clearly are not? 


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