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Educators Open to Christie’s School Proposal [VIDEO/AUDIO/POLL]

Education professionals in New Jersey are expressing a willingness to discuss Gov. Christie’s call for a longer school day and school year in New Jersey.

Governor’s Office

In his State of the State address Tuesday, the governor said increased time in the classroom could be what the state needs to boost student achievement. He called the current system and schedule “antiquated” educationally and culturally.

The state’s largest teacher’s union, a frequent adversary of Christie, indicated it would be “more than happy” to discuss the issue with the administration.

“That’s the only way to find common ground,” said Steve Wollmer, director of communications for the New Jersey Education Association, noting compensation for extra teaching hours would have to be part of the discussion.

“We have districts right now that start around 7 in the morning and go until maybe 4 o’clock in the afternoon, with our kids involved in co-curricular activities,” added NJEA vice president Marie Blistan. “They’re not leaving school until 6 or 7 at night, or even later sometimes.”

Blistan said the issue is one that needs “close scrutiny and study and resources to accomplish.”

A number of states are currently participating in a pilot program to study the effects of a lengthened school year, according to the Christie administration. Despite stiff opposition from union leadership last year, Chicago’s public schools saw their days extended by 75 minutes.

Gov. Christie’s remarks were highly praised by the New Jersey School Boards Association, which pointed to decades of research showing increased instructional time is key to greater academic achievement.

“We’re looking for the leadership of Gov. Christie to bring us to that point where we can have a longer day and school year,” said Frank Belluscio, deputy executive director of the NJSBA.

The association noted the average work year for a New Jersey teacher is 185 days, including both educational and in-service days. Some teachers currently work as much as 191 days each school year.

Christie said he and New Jersey Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf will present a solid proposal “shortly.”


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