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Race to the Top: NJ Loses $400 Million Due to Clerical Error
posted by: Colin | August 26, 2010, 08:06 PM   

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is fuming at the federal government's unwillingness to let his administration address a clerical error in their 1,000 page application that likely cost his state $400 million in Race to the Top funding.

A simple clerical mistake on the application switched 2008-09 budget numbers for 2010-11. Two weeks prior to the final decision, New Jersey officials met with federal officials and corrected the data in person, but apparently the verbal correction was not accepted. Gov. Christie is taking full responsibility and refuses to even release the name of the mid-level staffer who made the error.

Although he insists he takes full blame, Gov. Christie is criticizing the bureaucrats who graded the application for not accepting the verbal correction or taking just a few moments to contact someone in the New Jersey Department of Education to get the correct information, or access it on the public website.

Watch Gov. Christie discuss the error:

Gov. Christie's opponents didn't miss a beat trying to use the foul up against him. NJEA president Barbara Keshishian accused Christie of "hijack[ing] the grant application process for his own political purposes."

NJEA did not support New Jersey's Race to the Top application, but had endorsed an earlier version that Gov. Christie scrapped as being too weak. Gov. Christie noted that the section of the application dealing with the unions actually went up 23 points, even though he lost 14 points for not having union support.

Had the union supported the application, the clerical error would have been a moot point because the 14 points would have made the difference.

Read more AAE Blog coverage of Christie v. NJEA: Battle in the Garden State

Governor Christie raises some good points about the attitude in Washington, asking if "you guys just down there checking boxes like mindless drones, or are you thinking?"

Was Race to the Top about who could fill out the application properly or was it about which states were willing to reform their education in return for additional federal funding? Obviously New Jersey school students shouldn't be punished for such a minor clerical error.

Allahpundit at noted, "Anyone else think the DOE would have picked up the phone if Corzine was still governor?"

It is clear who loses in all of this: our students. $400 million could do a lot of good in New Jersey and Gov. Christie is right to both take the blame for the error and to draw attention to the "box-checking" attitude that failed to resolve the issue.

Should the federal government have accepted the verbal correction?
Was the NJEA president wrong to try to use this against Gov. Christie?

Comment below.

Comments (2)Add Comment
written by Ernie, via Facebook, August 27, 2010

Should the feds be allowed to encourage schools to compete for funding?????
What about the students?
written by Jilleva, August 26, 2010

Once again, Christie is right on. The students lost, that's the most important and disappointing aspect of this.

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