New Jersey schools chief fired after Race to the Top gaffe

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie fired his education commissioner on Aug. 27, days after it was revealed that a simple mistake on an application form might have cost the state a $400 million Race to the Top grant, reports the Associated Press. The dismissal of Commissioner Bret Schundler comes after New Jersey became the top runner-up for the controversial federal grants, missing out by only a few points. The Star-Ledger of Newark later reported that budget figures for the wrong years were supplied in one section of the application. Christie had defended Schundler on Aug. 25 and blamed the federal Education Department (ED) for considering form over substance. Christie originally said Schundler gave the federal government the missing information during a meeting in Washington this month. But a video released by ED officials Aug. 26 shows that wasn’t the case. “I was extremely disappointed to learn that the videotape of the Race to the Top presentation was not consistent with the information provided to me by the New Jersey Department of Education and which I then conveyed to the people of New Jersey,” Christie said in a statement. “As a result, I ordered an end to Bret Schundler’s service as New Jersey’s Education Commissioner and as a member of my administration.” Schundler said in a telephone interview with the AP that he was disappointed with being dismissed. “I don’t believe that education commissioners are interchangeable any more than governors are,” he said. “We could have been very successful at accelerating reforms in New Jersey.”

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