Wall Street Journal
By LISA FLEISHER
Fired New Jersey education commissioner Bret Schundler on Thursday plans to accuse Gov. Chris Christie of caring more about sticking to his public image as a foe of the teachers union than winning $400 million in federal education funds.
Mr. Schundler, in prepared testimony to a state Senate panel reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, says the governor in May buckled after hearing local talk-radio hosts criticize him for a compromise with the state's main teachers union to win support for the application for federal Race to the Top money.
"Since I had kept the governor's Chief of Staff abreast of my discussions with union, it surprised me when the governor called me the next morning and loudly expressed his unhappiness with the agreement," Mr. Schundler says in his written testimony. "The governor informed me that NJ 101.5 radio host Jim Gearhart was saying he had caved in to the union. He said that the leaders of the [New Jersey Education Association] had demeaned him and that it was utterly intolerable for him to be viewed as having given-in to them. The money was not worth it."
Mr. Schundler will say Mr. Christie ordered the Department of Education to revamp the application without some key provisions that would have cemented crucial teacher support but that Mr. Schundler considered "inconsequential." He also will repeat his claim that he kept Mr. Christie's Chief of Staff Rich Bagger in the loop on negotiations with the union on the application and his belief the so-called compromise application would have won in the competition.
A spokesman for Mr. Christie declined to comment.