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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jersey Kids Pay Price for Christie's Arrogance

It's a simple rule: Answer the question. And New Jersey -- under the stewardship of Chris Christie -- arrogantly ignored it. Now New Jersey lost out on $400 million in federal school funding because the state government failed to answer a five-point question asked in the application, getting just a fraction of a point awarded, and ended up trailing the last funding winner by three points, reports the Star-Ledger in an article to appear in Thursday's editions.

The question asked for a comparison of 2011 budget expenditures against 2008-09 expenditures. The Christie Administration rejected the original application question because it answered the question that was asked, and made an embarassing comparison that would have revealed that the percentage of the state budget devoted to education declined from 39.6% in 2009 to 35.4% in 2011.  These numbers clearly indicate that education as a percentage of state spending was cut more than average, and a four percentage point drop is a serious, material decline.  No wonder the Christie Administration tried to hide that fact. trying to ignore the question, the state totally flubbed the section.

This strategy was a transparent effort to ignore the federal government's question, and shows an intellectual arrogance which may have ruffled feathers in Washington.  Even worse, it was followed up by an amateurish, childish effort to shift the blame.   

Lawyers and judges chide witnesses to answer the question that is asked, and not the question that the witness wishes had been asked. Judges giving this instruction on cross-examination, and lawyers at depositions, often -- and justifiably -- get incensed when witnesses try to elude, evade and deceive their questioner.

And may I ask:  What was the policy of Christie's U.S. Attorney's Office towards public officials who failed to disclose certain things involving money?   Right you are -- those people got indicted (see: Ferriero, Joseph).  So either Christie the federal prosecutor oversaw wrongful prosecutions, or he (or the staffers in his Administration) demonstrated hypocrisy.

This intellectual dishonesty -- and arrogance -- will cost New Jersey schoolchildren.

Well...only the public school students.

Christie's kids -- and Education Commissioner Bret Schundler's kids -- all go to private school. They get off fine. It's those other kids, from the non-exclusive, plebeian parts of the state...they're the ones paying the price.

Someone's head should roll for this.

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