By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog
Whether she ultimately runs for (and wins) the GOP nomination for governor in 2017 remains a topic of interest in Republican circles state-wide, Save Jerseyans, but what’s not in doubt is that Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno is actively trying to keep her options open.
Traversing the state while Governor Chris Christie pursues the presidency elsewhere, former Monmouth County Sheriff is already working over lists of locally influential Republican committee members and joining GOP 2015 battleground candidates on the campaign trail.
On Monday, she joined New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe in Atlantic City at the annual New Jersey Charter Schools Conference hosted by the New Jersey Charter Schools Association (NJCSA), a 501(c)(3) membership association.
“I know the slogan ‘Charters Change Lives’ is true, as the facts on the whole show that New Jersey’s charter schools are successfully working to bridge the achievement gap,” said Lt. Governor Guadagno at the podium. “It is time to look at all the resources a community can offer to meet individual student needs and improve student performance. It is time to realize that our families and our children are not all alike, and giving parents choices for high-quality education serves all of us.”
Guadagno will not, however, be able to rely solely on the Christie education record should she choose to run as his successor, a reality that’s likely to influence her potential candidacy.
The Christie record is perhaps more accurately described as “pro-charter” than “pro-school choice.” Since 1997, New Jersey’s charter school population has jumped from 13 schools to 87 schools operating in 16 counties and 41 cities attended by a grand total of approximately 37,500 students. What’s more, New Jersey charter school attendance is up almost 73% during the Christie Administration’s tenure. This trend has benefited a key Christie political ally and charter business entrepreneur, Democrat boss George Norcross III. Meanwhile, citing budgetary constraints, the state has actually applied curbs to the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program.
Budgetary problems and judicial interference will also continue to complicate future education funding discussions. Moreover, the well-heeled NJEA/liberal super pac establishment remains fervently opposed to any perceived challenge to the public school monopoly, and New Jerseyans from both sides of the ideological divide increasingly oppose the Administration’s embrace of Common Core curriculum standards and related PARCC testing.
Where would a candidate Guadagno come down on all of this?