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Christie To Call For Longer School Calendar In State Of State Speech

Governor expected to address 'Bridgegate' scandal in his State of the State speech inside the Assembly chambers in Trenton

By Keith Brown

Gov. Chris Christie will call for a longer public school day - and longer school year - as he makes education a cornerstone of his second term and steers away from the "Bridgegate" scandal that's dogged his administration, according to excerpts of the State of the State speech.

Saying that the current school calendar is not reflective of the times, the governor’s proposal to lengthen school days and the school year is expected to be short on details, which he promises to deliver the state Legislature Tuesday afternoon.

What's not clear is how he expects to address the political-retribution scandal involving the closure of George Washington Bridge lanes back in September. Christie apologized for the scandal last week and fired one of his chief aides.

Christie will address both houses of the 216th state legislature in the Assembly chambers. He is scheduled to deliver his remarks at 3 p.m.

“Our school calendar is antiquated both educationally and culturally,’’ Christie says in the excerpt of the speech obtained by Patch. “Life in 2014 demands something more for our students. It is time to lengthen both the school day and the school year in New Jersey.’’

Students in New Jersey are required to attend school 180 days a year, although some districts extend that and some charter also extend the school days or school years to help students catch up.

“This is a key step to improve student outcomes, and boost competitiveness,’’ the excerpt reads. “We should do it now.’’

With the proposal, Christie joins a national movement believing that more time in the classroom will yield better results for American students, who perform solidly average when compared to students in other industrialized countries. President Obama also has called for more classroom time for American students.

But critics say longer school days puts an additional burden on teachers – that schools need more resources more than a additional instruction time.

It was not immediately known how the New Jersey Education Association, the powerful teachers union that has had an adversarial relationship with Christie, views the proposal.

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