First off, I am no longer with a news outlet, so when I was called to attend this town hall meeting, I originally thought it was to cover this for a media outlet. 😉
Hope Hose Humane Fire Company is literally down the street from me, so I got my cameras, and photographed the protesters on Burlington and Willow St. And then I went inside, thinking that I would have to go and sit down, but I was pleasantly surprised to be allowed to photograph with the press and media. I did explain who I was and who I used to be with(The Packet Publication and that I am now a freelance commercial photographer), I gave my business card to the gentlemen and then settled down in a spot. I am really thankful and grateful to have been allowed to do this today.
I saw a lot of people that I knew, including Mayor of Bordentown City, Joe Malone, Ziggy Targonski, Mayor of Bordentown Township, Jill Popko, and many others in the community.
New Jersey State Governor, Chris Christie stopped by Bordentown, NJ to explain his Fairness Formula to NJEA teachers, staff, residents of Bordentown, and those from other towns. He’s calling for a fixed $6,599 in state aid per student. Supposedly this would greatly reduce property taxes in our town, which are enormous, and in other towns. Bordentown Regional School District spends about $19,851 per student and we have a graduation rate of 88.5 percent, while Asbury Park spends about $33,609 per student and their graduation rate isn’t as high, just 66 percent.
I quote David Levinsky, staff writer for the Burlington County Times:
“He said the state’s 31 poorest districts haven’t made substantial improvements in three decades, despite receiving millions in additional aid.”If money were the solution alone to this problem, those 31 districts would be the crown jewel of public education in America,” he said. “I’m tired of hearing the fiction that money will solve the problem.
“Christie was challenged during the town hall-style event on West Burlington Street by several audience members, among them Sue Altman, of Camden, who got into a lively back-and-forth debate with the governor after asking how the city’s school district would be able to provide a suitable education to students once millions of aid are phased out. “You can’t get blood from a stone. There’s no money in Camden. Where are you going to get it from?” Altman asked.
Christie pointed to the success of charter schools in Camden, saying they have had tremendous success with much less state funding. When Altman began to interrupt, Christie tossed his microphone to her. “I would love for the miracle of charter schools to come in and swoop in and save the day. I’d love it, and I’d be the first person to send my child there. But they do not serve the same demographic of children as the regular public schools. They don’t spend the same amount of money,” Altman said, pointing to the private dollars raised by some charter schools in Camden. ”We’re not talking apples to apples here,” she said, before throwing the microphone back to the governor.
Christie responded that charter schools have used different rules, approaches and methods of teaching to achieve better results, but that traditional public schools have refused to adopt similar changes, such as a longer school day or school year because of their teachers unions and collective bargaining agreements.
“There’s lots of bargains that could be made if compromise was available. But longer school days and longer school years have consistently been off the table. Because when the Legislature has proposed these types of things, we have seen the crowd come to Trenton to lobby against it,” he said.”
There were a lot of protesters from the NJEA(New Jersey Educational Association) which is the statewide union for teachers. They claim that this Fairness Formula is not fair and that it creates a disservice to the urban school districts while the suburban districts maintains funding for charter schools at the expense of the many traditional public schools in our great state.
First Mayor Joe Malone of Bordentown City came out to introduce the Governor, and then Governor Chris Christie came in and went right into his speech.
This gentleman was from Mount Laurel. NJ and was talking about housing. Not necessarily a question, but Christie seemed to think he was running for something…
Asking about NJ’s gas tax and having a laugh about not having to pump gas in our state and that a poll said that 70% of women didn’t want to pump gas. Having lived in other states when the weather was really hot, freezing or with torrential downpours,, yeah..I don’t want to pump gas in extreme weather. BUT I don’t like waiting around either and actually like having control over how I put fuel into my car.
And some didn’t get the answers they were looking for.
Emotions were high for this town hall meeting, as I’m sure they are for his other ones. There is a LOT at stake for this one.