|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
After making a high-profile bid for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal education reform money, New Jersey fell three points short of receiving "Race to the Top" funding, in part because of an error by the Christie administration in the state’s application, records obtained by The Star-Ledger show.
One five-point question on the application asked for budget information comparing the 2008 and 2009 school years. However, the state submitted information comparing the current year to 2011.
That mistake cost the state 4.8 points. The state lost points in other areas as well, the records show.
In the end, New Jersey received 437.8 out of a possible 500 points, placing it 11th in the competition, just behind Ohio, which received $400 million and was the last state to receive funding. The winners of the $4.35 billion competition were announced today in Washington, D.C.
"New Jersey did not supply the 2008-2009 data as required and therefore forfeits the points," said the report from one of the federal reviewers scoring the competition.
Gov. Chris Christie this morning acknowledged the state made a clerical error that blew its chance at winning $400 million in federal money for schools, but he blamed Obama administration bureaucrats for not giving New Jersey a chance to correct the mistake.
“This is the stuff, candidly, that drives people crazy about government and crazy about Washington,” Christie said at a news conference after an unrelated bill signing.
Christie slapped two thick three-ringed binders on the podium containing more than 1,000 pages of the state's “Race to the Top” application and appendices, noting that just one piece of paper contained the error.
“The first part of it is the mistake of putting the wrong piece of paper in," Christie said. "It drives people crazy and, believe me, I’m not thrilled about it. But the second part is, does anybody in Washington, D.C. have a lick of common sense? Pick up the phone and ask us for the number.”
“That’s the stuff the Obama administration should answer for. Are you guys just down there checking boxes like mindless drones, or are you thinking?” said Christie. “When the president comes back to New Jersey, he’s going to have to explain to the people of the state of New Jersey why he’s depriving them of $400 million that this application earned.”
Questions have been piling up all day, not the least of which is this: Is this incompetence on the part of Education Commissioner Bret Schundler's office - either by an individual or individuals, or as a culture of the way his office works? Or, did Governor Christie's administration treat this program and its opportunities as a political football, punting because they didn't get everything they wanted, throwing the game? Did they give this effort their best, or send in people with poor qualifications in leading public schooling?
Date and time has not yet been set but the hearing will be via the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Christie administration officials who will be called to appear before the panel include Education Commissioner Bret Schundler.