He then opened the floor to questions. A few were softballs, including the declaration by Clara Nebot of Bergenfield that Christie is "a god" to her relatives in Florida.Oh, as if a union teacher in New Jersey would get in trouble for asking a question of the governor about getting more money!
But borough teacher Rita Wilson, a Kearny resident, argued that if she were paid $3 an hour for the 30 children in her class, she’d be earning $83,000, and she makes nothing near that.
"You’re getting more than that if you include the cost of your benefits," Christie interrupted.
When Wilson, who has a master’s degree, said she was not being compensated for her education and experience, Christie said:
"Well, you know then that you don’t have to do it." Some in the audience applauded.
Christie said he would not have had to impose cuts to education if the teachers union had agreed to his call for a one-year salary freeze and a 1.5 percent increase in employee benefit contributions.
"Your union said that is the greatest assault on public education in the history of the state," Christie said. "That’s why the union has no credibility, stupid statements like that."
Surrounded by reporters after she spoke, Wilson said she was shaking from the encounter, and worried she might get in trouble for speaking out.
But Christie is exactly right. New Jersey can't afford the generous benefits and wages that it gives to its teachers. It's all nice and people like to support education and teachers. But they don't have the money! And the union uses hyperbole to characterize legitimate measures to deal with the state's financial crisis. With unemployment so high, having a salary freeze does not seem unreasonable. Other states' teachers, including my own, have had such freezes this past year. Teachers are being let go and empty positions are not being filled. But the N.J. teachers seem to think they should be immune. Bravo to Christie for refusing to back down.