Historically, Fort Lee High had maintained a strong record of academic excellence. But a few years ago sinking test scores caused the school to be added to the federal “needs improvement” list. The school immediately made some difficult choices: bringing in a fresh crop of administrators, laying off non-tenured teachers and telling educators they simply had to do better. In less than a year, Fort Lee bounced back with a 98% graduation rate, 94% of which are going on to higher education, and restored its former status. Christie commented on Fort Lee High’s success and how it might be replicated nationwide. Emphasizing that when you’re dealing with the dilemma of improving a school – especially with incredibly complicated issues like funding and the fair evaluation of teachers – he explained that truly effective change can only come when federal leaders push politics aside and work together to put students first.
Mika Brzezinski: “Big picture – we want to know what you think of [Secretary of Education] Arne Duncan and his approach to education, this president, and does Mitt Romney, your candidate, have an education plan that’s better?" Gov. Chris Christie: “I have a lot of agreement with the president and Arne Duncan on these education issues and I’ve said that publicly many times. I think Secretary Duncan’s an enormous breath of fresh air in the education system. I don’t agree with him on every single thing, and he doesn’t agree with me, but we’ve found enormous common ground to work with. The president deserves credit for that too, he appointed him. So the president allows him to do the things he’s doing.” “My approach to New Jersey is this – I’m as tough a Republican as anyone’s going to want to find, I suspect. But when Democrats do things right, you’ve got to give them credit because we’ve got to work together. We can’t have a system here in New Jersey like we have in Washington. We can’t have a system where everyone’s just yelling and screaming, taking their positions, putting out there press releases, and not getting anything done. We’re getting things done here. We’ve got to work together.”