“What’s your name?”
“What are you working on?”
“That’s well done.”
The politicians crouched on the floor, asking questions of the first- and third-graders and making the most of the photogenic surroundings at Global Academy charter school in Columbia Heights.
Republican candidate for governor Jeff Johnson, accompanied by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, moved the education achievement gap to the front burner of his campaign today with an appearance at a school where students score higher than the state average on achievement tests.
“Minnesota has one of the worst, if not the worst, achievement gaps … in the country,” Johnson said after he, Christie, and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mike McFadden toured three classrooms. “It’s embarrassing, it’s immoral. I think it’s unconscionable that we seem to be willing to almost give up on some of the kids in our state.”
The DFL responded to the event even before it was held. “As governor, Christie slashed a billion dollars in direct state aid to schools, gutting key investments in New Jersey’s future,” the DFL said in a statement. “As a legislator, Johnson voted for deep cuts in education funding.”
Johnson has disputed the charge of votes to cut education funding and today stressed that parents should have more control of education funding.
“For as much as possible we should let the money follow the child,” Johnson said. “It gives parents more control … more choices, it gives them more options.”
Christie, a likely candidate for president and chair of the Republican Governors Association, was asked how the RGA would demonstrate its support for Johnson.
“I’m here because I think Jeff can win this race,” Christie said. “That should be an important sign of the RGA’s perspective of our commitment here. I’m going to 18 different states in the month of October. I’m not going to any place where I think our candidate can’t win.”