by Mike Russell
Governor Christie went on a press junket through Camden’s schools yesterday in honor of the start of the school year in New Jersey, and three local publications had slightly different takes on the visit.
NJ.com published a fairly straight news story, giving a brief overview of Christie’s visit to Octavius V. Catto Community Family School. The article includes a one-and-a-half minute video of Christie during the press conference from the governor’s website in which he compared Camden’s and Newark’s attitudes towards the changes in public education.
The Inquirer focused its story – headlined “On schools front, Christie prefers the calm of Camden” – on the governor’s remarks on Newark’s vs Camden’s school system. Students in Newark boycotted the first day of school, and the Newark’s mayor is at odds with Christie and the state-appointed superintendent. Camden has been comparatively quite and drama free, though Camden’s shift towards charter schools has its critics too.
The South Jersey Times article – headlined “Gov. Chris Christie praises ‘school choice,’ visits students in Camden” – mostly ignored Christie’s Newark/Camden remarks, focusing instead on the governor’s praise for the city’s proliferation of charter schools. The article noted that Christie dismissed the idea that charter schools would completely replace public schools, saying,
Asked where that would leave the district public schools, as more charter schools open throughout the city, the governor said parents should have “more choice, not less.”
Overall, Christie seems to support the rise of charter schools in New Jersey’s poorest cities, insisting that they are good for those communities. Opponents are not convinced; multiple groups have popped up in Camden to oppose building more charter schools. Some charter schools have even been placed in the closed halves of public school buildings.
Meanwhile, Camden’s public schools suffered a round of cuts last spring, during which around 200 public school staff lost their jobs.
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