Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican who recently won approval of a major private school voucher program, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who’s been stymied on that front, are a couple of the top-draw speakers this week at national gathering of supporters of expanded school choice.
Earlier today, Christie addressed attendees the national policy summit of the American Federation for Children, which supports private school vouchers and has played an active role in backing legislative proposals on that front around the country.
Christie hit some familar notes, such as depicting the state’s leading teachers’ union, the New Jersey Education Association, as backward and obstructionist. He cited a litany of woes affecting schools in New Jersey’s disadvantaged communities—including high dropout rates, dismal test scores, and the need for remediation when many students reach college—and said publicly funded vouchers should be an option for families with children stuck in failing schools.
The New Jersey governor wants lawmakers to back a voucher measure, the “Opportunity Scholarship Act.” But he says he’ll need some Democrats, whose party controls both legislative chambers in his state, to get behind it, for it to have a chance. As governor, Christie has proposed a pilot voucher program for disadvantaged students in academically low-performing districts. (In Louisiana, Jindal oversaw the passage of a large-scale voucher measure, albeit under favorable political conditions: he had the backing of a GOP-led legislature.)
Christie said Republican should be proud that elected leaders of their party are continuing to fight for private school choice. While saying “I don’t want to make this partisan,” Christie argued that many Democrats representing New Jersey’s cities, in opposing private school vouchers, were not acting in their constitutents’ best interests.
“I say this in urban communities all the time,” the governor said. “You continue to vote for these folks, and put them in office, and they continue to not addess the needs of your families and your children.”
You can catch Christie’s full speech below:
A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.