Former Commissioner of Education Bret Schundler is testifying today before a state Senate committee. And his written testimony, released to the media yesterday, contains some pretty damning words about the boss who fired him.
The testimony involves Gov. Chris Christie's reaction to a compromise Schundler brokered with the teachers' union over the state's application for $400 million in federal "Race to the Top" money - a compromise Christie rejected, ultimately losing the union support that might have won the state the funds. Schundler said the compromise still would have allowed Christie to implement most of his education agenda.
This is what I found most astounding, if true:
"The governor informed me that NJ 101.5 radio host Jim Gearhart was saying he had caved in to the union. He said that the leaders of the NJEA had demeaned him and that it was utterly intolerable for him to be viewed as having given in to them. The money was not worth it."
If true, that means Gov. Chris Christie valued his image and ego above $400 million for education in New Jersey. Outrageous. Even worse may be the idea that an entertainment/talk radio show is setting policy in the Governor's Office.
For the most part, Christie's policy shifts have been a refreshing change and, I believe, are exactly what the state has long needed in the way of fiscal responsibility. But there are times you have to wonder if his fatal flaw will be an overblown ego and an inability to compromise in order to make his policies happen.