In his annual State of the State address on Tuesday, Jan. 13, Gov. Chris Christie highlighted his accomplishments over the past five years, including bipartisan successes in tasks such as improving the city and schools of Camden.

He also pledged to seek “a New Jersey renewal that can help lead to an American renewal.”

In his nearly hour-long speech before a joint session of the state Legislature at the State House in Trenton, Christie cited his achievements in tenure reform; bringing performance-based pay to Newark schools; and reforming and re-energizing Camden’s schools.

Camden School Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard was among those in the audience that also included former governors, Supreme Court justices, the Legislature, Education Commissioner David Hespe, and other notables.

Christie also called for approval of the Opportunity Scholarship Act, a voucher-like pilot program. NJSBA has opposed the legislation in the past.

”More school reform is needed, and a great first step would be to pass the Opportunity Scholarship Act, to give parents a choice of a school that meets their child’s needs,” the governor said.

“Let’s give families an alternative to chronically failing neighborhood schools. Let’s keep driving for better outcomes. Let’s give parents and students more choice. At its heart, education is about realizing the potential of every individual.”

Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association, commented on the speech.  “Governor Christie highlighted the substantial progress of New Jersey’s public schools, including critical reform of tenure and the expansion of educational opportunities in our inner cities. Our state’s public schools continue to perform at a high level in terms of academic achievement, as reflected by many measurements, including the National Assessment of Educational Progress and, most recently, the ‘Quality Counts’ analysis by Education Week.

“That success is due largely to our commitment to education at the local and state levels. We were pleased to hear the governor’s call for continuation of that commitment—and the wisdom to invest in education at every level. As he said, it is a ‘key to a better tomorrow’ for New Jersey.”

The entire text of Christie’s speech is available online.