Budget & Finance

N.J. Gov. Wants Math, Science Teachers Paid More Than P.E. Teachers

By Bryan Toporek — November 18, 2011 1 min read

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hasn’t exactly been known as a friend of teachers’ unions during his time as governor.

Christie drew the rancor of his state’s NEA affiliate once again this week, when he said that math and science teachers deserve to be paid more than gym teachers, in an online interview with Facebook.

“You have to pay [math and science teachers] more than we pay the gym teacher,” he said. “I’m sorry, in today’s society, they’re more valuable than the gym teacher. They just are.”

Christie was responding to a Facebook software-engineer’s question about what the GOP’s policy should be toward STEM education. The engineer said that “one of the problems that we face here at Facebook is recruiting enough talent on our engineering team.”

In response, Christie said that the No. 1 priority needed to be fixing urban schools, which he said are currently doing “awful.” (That’s in contrast to suburban and rural schools, which are doing “OK” by the governor’s books.)

Then, Christie set his sights on teachers. Gym teachers, in particular.

We have to adapt our education system to the kids, not the education system for the comfort of the adults, and that's what we're doing right now. Teachers are comfortable working 8:30 to 3, from September to June, and, you know, this is the way it's always been. But that's when we were on the agrarian calendar, and people got out in June because they had to work out in the farm. No one's doing that anymore, at least very few people are. ... So, we have to have a longer school year; we have to have a longer school day."

In direct response to the STEM question, Christie followed up by saying: “We have to incentivize people to become science and math teachers. We gotta pay them more.”

And then, he dropped the “in today’s society, they’re more valuable than the gym teacher” quote.

Union Responds

Not surprisingly, a spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association didn’t see eye-to-eye with that last comment.

“What’s he got against gym teachers?” NJEA spokesman Steve Wollmer asked in an email to

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.