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Christie to Propose Longer School Days, Years

Image: Christie to Propose Longer School Days, Years

By Melissa Clyne   |   Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 11:44 AM

After a week of non-stop headlines and political punditry over the George Washington Bridge scandal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is hoping to change the subject.

During his State of the State address, he will seek to persuade residents of the Garden State that to compete in the world economy, New Jersey needs to extend the length of both its school day and its school year, NBC News reports.

"Our school calendar is antiquated both educationally and culturally," Christie said in excerpts of the speech obtained by NBC News before the address. "Life in 2014 demands something more for our students. It is time to lengthen both the school day and school year in New Jersey."

Though Christie has been fighting to overhaul the education system since his first term in office, he has a renewed sense of urgency to return to that narrative since the explosive story broke nearly a week ago that implicated key members of the governor’s staff as having orchestrated gridlock on the bridge, via lane closures, as an act of political revenge. The George Washington Bridge is one of the nation’s busiest, connecting New York City with New Jersey.

Until the scandal, Christie had been considered a front-runner for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. Some insiders pontificate that he will emerge unscathed, while others believe it will sink his presidential ambitions.

Christie won’t divulge details of his extended school proposal until he and New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf finalize them, according to The Washington Times.

As of 2009, New Jersey was the nation’s most densely populated state with 1,174 people per square mile, according to the National Education Association. It ranked second, behind New York, for spending the most money per student in public elementary and secondary school -- $17,717, compared with Idaho, which spent just $8,101, according to NEA figures.

In his first term, Christie successfully eliminated lifetime tenure for teachers, a practice that had been in place for a century, according to the Washington Times.

NorthJersey.com reports that New Jersey students are currently required to attend at least 180 days a year in school, though some districts have added additional days.

Christie says the added days and extended school year is "a key step to improve student outcomes, and boost our competitiveness."

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