Tough Talk On Education Reform Upsets Union, Some Parents

PARAMUS, N.J. (CBS 2/1010 WINS) — Governor Chris Christie held his first town hall meeting of the year Thursday in Bergen County. Hundreds of people packed a building to listen to the Republican talk about pension and education reform.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reports, it’s a plan that could eliminate tenure for teachers.

“I’m not worried about being loved. My mother told me a long time ago if you have a choice between being loved and respected, take respected. Love may come later,” Christie said.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

The huge crowd packing an Elks Lodge in Paramus got to see Christie up close and personal describing how he wants to change the state’s education system by getting rid of chronically failing schools and teachers — basing it all on merit not tenure.

“We’re going to reward you for what you do. We’re going to honor you both financially and spiritually and when you have colleagues who stink and who are letting down the children and their families we’re going to fire them,” Christie said.

Kevin King told Sloan he has two special needs children in school.

“I totally agree with it. With the number of people out of work teachers need to be held accountable,” King said.

But other parents said they are worried.

“I want them to support school system, give them good programs. I don’t want any more cuts,” Paramus resident Dori Barret said.

And one former teacher expressed anger over Christie’s remarks.

“I have looked at the governor for the past year and he has effectively trashed my profession,” Bob Myers said.

The teachers’ union said despite what the governor says tenured teachers are held accountable and can be fired. One union rep said his proposal isn’t fair.

“I respect the governor position he holds. I do not respect the unfair dictatorial way he’s trying to implement his policies,” he said.

The governor said he’s put an education task force together to look into teacher evaluations. Its findings will be released in the coming months.

The Bergen County Education Association said there are no teachers on the governor’s task force and that, they said, is a mistake.

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