Friday, January 22, 2010

Choice Education Chiefs

A nice editorial in yesterday's WSJ about exciting developments in Virginia and NJ:

·         REVIEW & OUTLOOK

·         JANUARY 20, 2010


Choice Education Chiefs

Two new governors pick reformers.

Kudos to the country's two newest governors, Republicans Bob McDonnell of Virginia and Chris Christie of New Jersey, who have tapped strong school choice advocates to head their state education departments.

Last week, Mr. McDonnell chose Gerald Robinson to become Virginia's next Secretary of Education. Mr. Robinson currently heads the Black Alliance for Educational Options, a national nonprofit that backs charter schools and performance pay for teachers. Meanwhile, Mr. Christie has picked former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler to serve as his state's next education commissioner. Mr. Schundler is an unabashed supporter of using education vouchers and charter schools to improve the plight of urban school districts.

This is good news for all school children in both states, but it's especially auspicious for low-income kids stuck in failing schools who have the most to gain from a state education official who is unafraid to shake up the establishment. Virginia has a grand total of three charter schools, one of the lowest numbers in the nation. New Jersey spends more money per pupil than all but two states, yet test scores in Newark and Jersey City are among the worst in the country.

Messrs. Robinson and Schundler have records that show a willingness to butt heads with teachers unions and other protectors of this status quo, but they'll also need political cover from their bosses. Asked if Mr. Schundler's selection was intended as a message to the local teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association, Mr. Christie replied, "I don't think the appointment of Bret Schundler sends any signal to the NJEA. The election of Chris Christie sends a message to the NJEA."

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