Gov. Chris Christie's candidate for Education Commissioner, Bret Schundler came before the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday for his confirmation hearing. For someone so allegedly controversial, he was pretty low key.
The former Jersey City mayor and gubenatorial candidate has learned a lot about when not to make waves. He amiably dodged questions about prayer in schools, and teaching abstinence-only sex education, saying repeatedly that his job is to follow the laws passed by the Legislature and policy set by the state Board of Education. He did say he promotes abstinence to his daughter.
When Senators noted that he expressed very stong opinions on some topics back when he ran for governor, and even during Christie's campaign, Schundler said:
"I shared what my opinion was when I had one," noting yet again that his job will be to implement what the governor, state board, and Legislature want, not what he personally believes.
He did say preschool appears to be "constructive spending" but passed off questions about school construction to the Schools Development Authority.
He agrees with Christie that removing state roadblocks to school consolidation might be more effective than forcing school districts to regionalize.
He also reiterated what he told the Assembly Education Committee last week, that he is hoping for flat state aid next year, but will also try to make sure the funds are distributed equitably. He said that might mean that districts now spending below the state "adequacy" amount might get a bit more money while everyone else gets an across the board cut, the amount yet to be determined.
The hearing was cut short by another meeting, and the committee plans to bring Schundler back for more questions.