By Darryl R. Isherwood | August 20th, 2013 - 9:16am
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The state's largest teachers union today began airing two ads highlighting what they say are the devastating effects of cuts in education funding under Gov. Chris Christie and the negative impact of an "explosion" in standardized testing.

The two ads from the New Jersey Education Association will begin airing today in the New York and Philadelphia markets as well as on New Jersey cable stations.

In "Cuts," which features Trenton elementary teacher Talithea Briggs, the union highlights the $1.3 billion in education cuts during Christie's first year in office.  The cuts, the ad says, mean “larger class sizes, fewer computers, and less money for books and materials.”

The union also decries the current funding levels, which saw some districts get an increase of $1."What are kids supposed to do with a dollar?" she asks.

In "Tests," Port Republic elementary teacher Erica Polito attacks what the union says is the impending explosion of standardized testing mandated by the state Department of Education.  “Students are spending more and more time on high-stakes standardized testing,” Polito tells viewers.  “It’s so sad to see Governor Christie turning our schools into test-taking factories,” she tells viewers.  "Our children are so much more than a test score and it’s time Governor Christie learned that.”

Polito last year ran for Democratic freeholder of Atlantic County losing to Republican Jim Bertino.

Both spots are airing as part of NJEA’s Pride in Public Education program and are part of a more than $1 million buy.

A spokesman for the governor's campaign said the ads amount to the same tired rhetoric form the union.

“This is just more of the same outdated and negative attacks that the NJEA is known for.  It’s not the least bit surprising that they would, in an election year, falsely attack the Governor’s record of reform and record funding for our schools, given their full-throated endorsement of our opponent who wants to take New Jersey backwards.”

Christie's battles with the NJEA are legendary as he has sought to paint the powerful union as self serving and out of touch with the needs of New Jersey's students.  Christie has championed reform programs such as merit pay and school vouchers - all strongly opposed by the union. The relationship had warmed some as Christie and legislative Democrats were able to hammer through reforms to tenure and other programs with the input of the union.

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