In the education-policy realm, where the
currency of rhetoric earns followers and acclaim, Garden State governor Chris
Christie reigns as king—and it’s not a bad place to sit. While Reagan had his
“welfare queens,” and Giuliani his “squeegee men,” Christie has his “sprawling
and powerful public-sector unions.” To combat this leviathan, Christie has
found the perfect public rallying cry, well-articulated in a recent New York Times Magazine piece on the
governor by Matt Bai. Through anecdote (and a bit of demagoguery), Christie
explains the link between his state’s fiscal crisis and public-union fringe
benefits—giving himself plenty of room to act. Of course, Christie isn’t the
only education reformer to wage the war of words. Michelle Rhee puts “students
first.” Fordham battles the “status quo” and the “education establishment.” But
Chris Christie, in his own coarse and charismatic way, could teach us all a few
lessons. And, as the war of words melds into the war of ideas, we’d all be wise
to take notes.
War of Words, ‘Reform’ a Potent Weapon,” by Sean Cavanaugh, Education Week, March 1, 2011.
Christie Did His Homework,” by Matt Bai, The New York Times Magazine, February 24, 2011.