Mistake Costs N.J. Education $400 Mil; Christie: Obama To Blame

Gov Takes Responsibility But Clearly Agitated With White House

TRENTON (CBS 2) — A costly mistake in the New Jersey governor’s office has cost the state $400 million in critical education funding.

On Wednesday, Gov. Chris Christie blamed President Barack Obama.

It was New Jersey’s future — a 1,000 page plan to get $400 million in federal funds for innovating education, called the Race to the Top.

But that money is lost, after one person in the Department of Education entered budget numbers for the wrong years.

“I’m not gonna fire somebody over this. I take that responsibility because I’m the governor,” Christie said.

But even as he accepted blame, Gov. Christie dished it out as well, saying the plan to revolutionize education in New Jersey was solid and deserved to win the funding, and said a quick phone call would have corrected the error.

“That’s the stuff the Obama administration should answer to. Are you just down there checking boxes like mindless drones?” Christie said.

Christie says that when the president comes back to the state “he’s going to have to explain to the people…of New Jersey why he’s depriving them of $400 million that this application earned.”

State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver called it “a stunning mistake that is going to hurt New Jersey’s children.”

Meanwhile, while the $400 million was funding the future, the teachers union said it’s still stunned over the loss of nearly $1.3 billion in state school funding, saying it is stripping the schools of 10,000 teachers and necessary programs.

“Library arts, languages, musical education will be the first to go,” said Wendell Steinhauer of the N.J. Education Association.

“Our school system is going to be devastated. Programs cut, class size increased,” added Fred Schwartz of the Hamilton Township Education Association.

Schwartz, a 35-year teaching veteran and lifelong Hamilton resident, said he fears for his students’ futures.

“This is not a wealthy community. We usually get a lot of scholarship money for our school kids and this is going to hamper our ability to get those scholarship dollars,” Schwartz said.

One of the ways Hamilton Township is dealing with its loss of funding in the school system is by cutting some bussing, which means some kids now have to navigate a busy Route 33. It’s something many say is unacceptable.

But there is a chance to fill some of the gap from state cuts and a $268 million federal grant meant to put unemployed teachers back to work. The teachers union said Christie is dragging his feet on that application.

“We’re not dragging our feet. We’re carefully preparing that application. You can only imagine how carefully we’re preparing that application,” Gov. Christie said.

It was a little sarcasm at a time when educators and parents were hoping for accountability.

New York was awarded $700 million in education aid.

  • Lynne Glass

    Once again, Chris Christie’s administration has dealt a blow to the best thing New Jersey has going–its excellent educational system. Christie’s priorities are utterly backward. He protects the super-rich from paying an appropriate share of taxes, thereby diminishing New Jersey’s revenues, while openly attacking the cornerstone of our children’s futures–their ability to get a quality education.

  • Cecelia

    There are 50 States Govenor, what makes our state so important to get a “phone call” to clarify a mistake? It’s my kid that suffers, not yours.

  • curious

    Please tell me how The Gov. and his staff’s Colossal mistake has anything to with the president?

  • JeffB

    Christie is a coward. He should own up to the mistake instead of trying to shift the blame on the Obama Administration, especially when all the other states filled out the application correctly. Unfortunately for Christie (and the students of NJ), the honeymoon is over – big time.

  • TT

    Tough luck for NJ. The money instead would go to another state that just needs it as badly as NJ. So don’t feel bad!

  • Rugbyball

    Don’t blame Christie for sending his kids to private Catholic School (which btw private is not needed as a descriptor since all schools not funded by the Govt are private. excluding grants)
    I am not rich by any fiscal standards, I live in NYC where I could send my kids to public school, but I choose Catholic school at expense to me because I am Catholic and want my children to receive a Catholic education and learn religious studies. If your religion of choice doesn’t have a school or you don’t care about religion studies for your children that’s your issue. But I do and I can send my children to school where I wish not because I am elitist or wealthy but because I choose too. If anything the ones who send there kids to Non-Public schools are doing the ones that do a favor, I am still paying school tax but I get no benefit from it since I am not using it, so that surplus helps your kids. You have to ask yourself, with all that surplus from all the non-public school children
    and the average cost per child in public school in NY/NJ is around $20,000 how can children going to Catholic schools where I pay ~$3,500 per child per year in Queens have a higher graduation rate and higher rate going on to college and graduating?

    Even Bloomberg is asking that question about NY Public Schools? Because the Catholic teachers are Union (same union as public teachers just a different local with different contracts).

    • Sarah

      And you sacrifice other things to afford that education for your kids. The waste has to stop and choices….real choices have to be made in the public sector as well.

  • mollyd


    Why should Christie care???? His kids go to a private Catholic school in Morristown. He wants to make sure they go to private high schools as well. His kids are too good for the public schools. He guts the schools and blames the teachers for the economy. What a loser.

    • Sarah

      If you are calling Christie a hypocrite because he sends his kids to private school, Does it bother you that Obama does the same with his kids?

  • Deke

    I guess someone is looking for a job this morning.

  • JB

    When $400 million is involved, it’s more than an unfortunate mistake. It’s a colossal blunder, and responsibility for it starts at the top…..

  • John

    He probably ate the paperwork

  • Blanco

    Some how or Some way he’ll find a way to blame the teachers union

  • CC

    The person responsible person is…………………….you’re FIRED!

  • Lou Janicek

    A truly unfortunate mistake, but that’s all it is, an unfortunate mistake. Kudos for Gov. Christie and the job he is attempting to do in making NJ fiscally responsible & whole again.

    • mollyd

      He is a complete hypocrite. His kids go to private school, and he has the nerve to gut the public schools, all the while blaming the teachers for everything but th weather, He should be fired over this. Loser.

    • JC_Native

      This was no mistake as Bret Schundler explained Christie purposely swapped the original for his version which caused us to loose the money so that he coulod sticj it to the teachers union the sooner he’s gone the better. Good Bye CC

  • Liaa

    If it was for public education, this would not surprise me since he wants to get rid of public schools.

  • michael

    surprise, surprise!
    Did anyoned really think we’d be giving all this $ with
    Christie as Governor?

  • Josh C

    What do you say to that? oops?

    • JC_Native

      This is the “DUMBING DOWN OF NJ” WE WILL SOON REPLACE ALABAMA AS THE DUMBEST STATE. THERE YA CC NOW WE ARE FIRST AT SOMETHING OTHER THAN CORRUPTION. P,S, with this it’s obvious that the corruption is on both sides of the fence DEMs and REPs alike

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