Special Report
Education Funding

N.J. Schools Chief Fired Over Race to Top Gaffe

By Sean Cavanagh — August 31, 2010 2 min read

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last week fired his appointed education commissioner, Bret Schundler, in the wake of a paperwork gaffe that may have cost the state a $400 million Race to the Top grant.

The Aug. 27 announcement followed days of fingerpointing over who was responsible for the error on the 1,000-page application, which cost the state 5 points. New Jersey scored 437.8 out of 500 possible points, just behind Ohio, which earned a score of 440.8 and was the 10th and final applicant that qualified for funding.

The firing came after Gov. Christie had defended the state’s round-two application, saying that New Jersey officials had tried to alert federal reviewers to the error during a videotaped, in-person presentation. But the subsequent release of that video made it appear that federal officials—not the state—flagged the error and that state officials were unable to provide the correct information.

“I was extremely disappointed to learn that the videotape of the Race to the Top presentation was not consistent with the information provided to me by the New Jersey Department of Education and which I conveyed to the people of New Jersey,” Gov. Christie said in a statement. “As a result, I ordered an end to Bret Schundler’s service as New Jersey’s education commissioner and as a member of my administration.”

Mr. Schundler had made no comment on the firing as of press time Friday.

Earlier in the week, Gov. Christie denounced the application reviewers—and the Obama administration directly—for not being willing to overlook what he called a “clerical error.”

“If you are a normal, thinking, breathing human being, you pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, you sent this one wrong paper; can we get the information?’ ” Gov. Christie said.

The application had asked states to compare spending on education in fiscal 2008 and 2009. New Jersey mistakenly responded by discussing proposed education spending increases for fiscal 2011, which resulted in the reviewers’ docking the points and noting the error.

Controversy had dogged the state’s application earlier, when Gov. Christie rejected a compromise that Mr. Schundler had arranged with a state teachers’ union on tenure and merit pay. The governor, who has feuded with the union, called the arrangement a “contrived consensus” and removed it from the final application.

New Jersey was not the only state to make a mistake on a Race to the Top proposal. In round one, Hawaii mistakenly omitted a section of its application on ensuring equitable distribution of teachers and principals, costing it 25 points, said Robert Campbell, the executive assistant for school reform for the state education department.

For round two, Hawaii filled in the gap—and walked away a winner, with $75 million.

A version of this article appeared in the September 01, 2010 edition of Education Week as N.J. Schools Chief Fired Over Race to Top Gaffe

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Building Leadership Excellence Through Instructional Coaching
Join this webinar for a discussion on instructional coaching and ways you can link your implement or build on your program.
Content provided by Whetstone Education/SchoolMint
Teaching Webinar Tips for Better Hybrid Learning: Ask the Experts What Works
Register and ask your questions about hybrid learning to our expert panel.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Families & the Community Webinar
Family Engagement for Student Success With Dr. Karen Mapp
Register for this free webinar to learn how to empower and engage families for student success featuring Karen L. Mapp.
Content provided by Panorama Education & PowerMyLearning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Director PEAK Academy Hapeville campus
Hapeville, Georgia, United States
Camelot Education
Technology Product Manager
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Camelot Education
2021-2022 Teacher (Districtwide)
Dallas, TX, US
Dallas Independent School District
[2021-2022] Founding Middle School Academic Dean
New York, NY, US
DREAM Charter School

Read Next

Education Funding Reopening Plans, Private Schools, Special Education: Senate Puts Stamp on COVID-19 Bill
The revised COVID-19 relief bill provides more than $120 billion in direct K-12 public school aid and could reach President Biden quickly.
5 min read
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., praises his Democratic Caucus at a news conference just after the Senate narrowly approved a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, March 6, 2021.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., praises his Democratic Caucus at a news conference just after the Senate narrowly approved a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Saturday, March 6, 2021.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Education Funding Nearly Half of School Finance Officials Report 'Sufficient' Federal COVID-19 Aid, For Now
A survey of local K-12 administrators also found "addressing learning loss" and ed-tech to be primary uses of relief dollars.
5 min read
Illustration of a helping hand with dollar bill bridging economy gap during coronavirus pandemic, assisting business people to overcome financial difficulties.
Feodora Chiosea/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Education Funding Return of Pet Projects in Congress Could Mean More Money for Schools to Address COVID-19
"Community funding projects," also known as earmarks, could support district and nonprofit K-12 projects.
3 min read
In this Jan. 4, 2020 photo, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. On Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, DeLauro was elected chair of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee by fellow Democrats, a position colleagues say will make her the most powerful politician from Connecticut in Washington in generations.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington last year. On Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, DeLauro revealed a proposal to restore the practice of earmarks after a decade-long ban in Congress.
Al Drago/Pool Photo via AP
Education Funding Concern About Unspent COVID-19 School Aid Continues as Congress Moves Toward More Relief
A congressional analysis has spurred discontent about how fast money will be spent, but some warn against over-simplifying the situation.
5 min read
Thermometers, gloves, and cleaning swabs sit on a table at the entrance to the Frederickson KinderCare daycare center, in Tacoma, Wash on May 27, 2020.
Thermometers, gloves, and cleaning swabs sit on a table at the entrance to the Frederickson KinderCare daycare center, in Tacoma, Wash on May 27, 2020. As a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, workers and children have their temperatures checked every day before they enter the building.
Ted S. Warren/AP