- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2016

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Chris Christie continued his push for more charter schools in Newark on Monday and took a jab at Mayor Ras Baraka, accusing him of protecting an “old, failed system.”

Christie spoke to students at a North Star Academy elementary school. The Republican governor said the school was failing and in danger of closing a few years ago, but now it’s a charter school and its students are thriving.

Dozens of students sat in rows in a gymnasium and listened to Christie talk, then asked him questions, including, “How did you get to be governor?”

Christie has championed the expansion of charter schools in New Jersey and particularly in Newark, where public schools have been under state control for decades. Last week he announced he was adding $27 million for Newark schools to the state budget.

Baraka, a former school principal, said last week Christie’s plan to expand charter schools in Newark is “unfortunate, irresponsible and damaging” to the city’s conventional public schools.

Christie said Baraka, who wasn’t present Monday, could be a hindrance to the city regaining local control of its schools.

“He is desperately protecting that old failed system that he’s a part of,” Christie said. “You can either be part of the solution or part of the problem.”

In an emailed statement later Monday, Baraka said, “I hope decisions around local control are going to be based on fairness, democracy, and the tremendous work we are doing in Newark, and not made simply because we don’t share the Governor’s point of view.”

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