In another groundbreaking move since taking over as the head of the Garden State, Gov. Chris Christie last week announced plans for the state to assume financial and educational control of the troubled and mismanaged school system in Camden.
The move by the governor–announced last Monday at Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden–is the first takeover of a school district initiated by Christie since he took office four years ago. Camden becomes the fourth city in the state to be managed by the state. The others are Newark, Jersey City and Paterson.
“The system is broken, and we need to take responsibility for fixing it,” Christie said at the news conference. “I will appoint a new superintendent.”
Christie said his office had filed the necessary paperwork to make the transition occur and for the Camden school district to become state-controlled. In highlighting the initiative, the Christie administration noted that nearly one-third of all juniors and seniors in Camden schools are not proficient in math. Additionally, more than 90 percent of the students are ranked in the bottom 5 percent in the state on various academic test scores. The city also has one of New Jersey’s lowest graduation rates in the state–with less than half of all seniors graduating.
Support for the governor’s move has reached across party lines and has even garnered praise of sorts from some major critics of the outspoken and tough-talking Republican governor. In a statement to the press shortly after the announcement, state Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney said, “We recognize it’s a dramatic change, but its time has come.”
Bloggers have weighed in on the topic as well. One posted, “When is it going to end? Why do the taxpayers have to pay? These animals are unteachable!”
The Camden School District has 20 days to respond to the Christie administration’s request to assume control of the district.