New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who appears to be cruising to victory in his bid for reelection, got into an argument with an irate teacher at a campaign stop at a VFW in the southern New Jersey town of Somers Point over the weekend.
Buena Regional Middle School math teacher Melissa Tomlinson asked Christie, “Why are you portraying our schools as failure factories?” reports The Star-Ledger.
The Republican’s response is unsettled.
On a blog called Jersey Jazzman, Tomlinson offers her version of the events. She says Christie’s answer to why he portrays schools as “failure factories” was: “Because they are!”
“I am tired of you people,” the governor also said in her version. “What do you want?”
Tomlinson then complained about how much money schools should receive.
“The crowd started arguing with me,” she explains. “He screamed at me to just do my job. The crowd cheered for him. I just looked at them and told them: ‘Hey, this is my life. I had to do this.’ I tried to follow him to Atlantic City to continue the conversation but the roads were blocked by police when I got there.”
Christie spokeswoman, Maria Comella characterized the exchange somewhat differently. Specifically, she told The Star-Ledger, Christie didn’t say he is “tired of you people.”
“The governor said that no matter how much money we spend, it will never be enough for you people,” Comella said.
The Star-Ledger notes that Christie has cut over $1 billion in funding for traditional public schools during his first term. At the same time, he has supported charter schools and instituted a voucher program that will provide private-school tuition vouchers for students in poor-performing schools.
Tomlinson is a member of the New Jersey chapter of the Badass Teachers Association, a group supporting “every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality, and refuses to accept assessments, tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning.” She said she wanted to have a public conversation with Christie.
“I want people to be aware of the truth of what’s going on in education,” she told The Star-Ledger.
“To me, there is never enough money spent on education,” Tomlinson has since said in a YouTube video about her brush with political fame.
One of the two co-founders of the Badass Teacher Association is Mark Naison, a one-time leader of Students for a Democratic Society and member of the Weather Underground.
Christie will learn his electoral fate after Tuesday’s election. He leads his Democratic opponent Barbara Buono by 25 points.