Christie advocates education reform


Korrie Bysted/Iowa State Daily

Chris Christie talks with a police office outside Hickory Park on Thursday, June 11.

Melissa Richards

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie continued to lay the groundwork on Thursday for a possible run toward the presidency in 2016.

As part of his “Tell it like it is” tour with the Leadership Matters for America PAC, Christie spoke to a room full of students, faculty and the public at the Memorial Union about the need for education reform at the K-12 and college levels.

At the top of his list was creating a higher education system that is more readily available and affordable for low-income and middle-class families. Christie emphasized that students graduating from high school should not be forced to choose between “the lesser of two hardships.” He said students’ current options are a lifetime of lower wages, or higher wages with crippling debt.

“Even while federal government spending for higher education has grown, the resources for poorer students have grown increasingly slimmer,” Christie said.

He said the programs that have been cut in the past decade are those most needed by students on the lowest economic rung.

Though Christie said he supports reform in educational funding, he does not agree with President Obama’s “typical liberal approach”  that higher education should be free.

“Earning a degree should actually involve earning it,” Christie told the audience.

The governor proposed creating more affordable secondary education through tax incentives to businesses to cover apprenticeship wages and costs.

“Learning on the job is still learning, and for many professions it’s the most valuable experience there is,” he said.

Christie’s message resonated well with David Nelson, a sophomore in supply chain management, and Zach Swailes, a sophomore in pre-business. The two were seated directly behind Christie during his speech.

“I really liked what he said about education having to be earned but making it more affordable,” Swailes said.

Nelson nodded in agreement and added that the apprenticeship programs had a particular appeal.    

Christie stressed the need for higher education spending to be more transparent, saying “the college bill is the most opaque bill in the world.” In order to avoid inefficient spending and unnecessary fees Christie proposed colleges who participate in federal programs be required to provide students a cost itemization on their bills.

Switching his focus to K-12 education, Christie said teacher tenure must be reformed to do away with the “last in, first out” approach used when cutting teaching positions when school budgets are tight. Christie pitted himself against the teachers’ union numerous times, stating that “the pessimists, led by the teachers’ unions,” are working against the best interest of our educational system.