Education Faceoff: Teacher reform a top priority in gubernatorial election – Republican

By Kyle Collins

I still recall my seventh grade history teacher, Mr. Leonard. He taught me how politics and history shape one another. Moreover, he emphasized the importance of cause and effect in history, not just dates and figures. I could name numerous professors at Rider who will certainly have a lasting effect on me as well and who have taught me cherished lessons beyond the course description.

This is why it is important to ensure that New Jersey’s youth have good teachers. The current public education system too often fails to reward those who go above and beyond while failing to take action against those who should not be teaching. In some cases, good teachers are forced to obey poor orders from administrators, or they struggle to avoid drowning in corrupt, inefficient bureaucracies.

Some argue that we have a great system, citing our high graduation rates. However, this does not illustrate whether our students are ready to survive in the real world and start their own families after graduation. A closer look reveals that only 39 percent of eighth graders were proficient or advanced in reading and 44 percent were proficient or advanced in math, according to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).

Our urban schools are the most troubled. One of the most glaring examples of this is the passage rate of the High School Proficiency Assessment, known as the HSPA, which is considered by some to be an eighth-grade test. According to the New Jersey DOE, students have a passage rate for this test of 89 percent. However, in Trenton, only 48 percent passed this test in 2007-2008. Those who do not pass the HSPA can still pass high school through what amounts to a teacher-assisted test, which virtually everybody is allowed to pass.

Chris Christie understands that real reform is necessary. First, he will work to produce more charter schools in New Jersey. Gov. Corzine only recently began approving several after Christie called him out on this negligence. Second, Christie will support school vouchers for students in underperforming schools. If you can choose between a Pepsi and a Coke, shouldn’t you be able to choose where your child receives his or her education? Not everybody can afford the price tag of private schools. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Christie will not depend on the teacher’s unions for an endorsement as Corzine has. Therefore, he will not fear taking the necessary steps of putting the children first, not union support.

On Nov. 3, vote for someone who doesn’t fear being a leader for children rather than a leader for teacher’s unions. Vote for Chris Christie.

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