Why Governor Christie Should Read Picture Books

Picture Book Referral to the Governor of New Jersey: THE GIVING TREE by Shel Silverstein

I read a blog post this morning from Melissa Tomlinson, a New Jersey teacher who visited Governor Christie on his campaign trailed and had a “not-so-nice-encounter” with the politician. Here is an excerpt in my writer way. If I was writing it in a scene in my book.  This is how it would play out (This is a rough draft).

SCENE: Main Character is the teacher. This  is written in her voice.

I have never really heard him speak before. The governor that is. At least not in real life. Just the bits and pieces I’ve heard from sound bytes compliments of my computer. I can’t afford all the fancy stuff – cable, newspaper, time – not on my salary. It’s just not in the budget. I am teacher. I work sixty hours a week, but my paycheck reflects only forty. Go figure. These are the days I questioned why am I doing this? Am I really making a difference? Are my students learning anything? But then I remembered all the good teachers I had, and I wanted to be just like them.

I work for the New Jersey public schools. We don’t have everything we need, but we are surviving. And according to the Governor, “New Jersey Public Schools are failure factories.” His words danced around in my head like a child on a carousel – spinning and spinning and spinning. I came face to face with him after waiting what seem to be an eternity to make his acquaintance.

“Any questions?” he asked overlooking the crowd like Queen Elizabeth at a Coronation ceremony.  Many hands raised and questions asked. I listened intently turning my head to see who was asking questions and glancing back to hear the governor’s response.

“I have a question!” I raised my hand high waiting to be acknowledged by the governor. He glanced in my direction, nodded to the man beside him, then motioned for me to ask my question. “I wanted to know why you portray NJ Public Schools as failure factories?”

The words danced off my lips and the knot in my stomach untied itself fleeing my body. But it was not over. The governor’s face grew red, angry, and big like a pumpkin waiting to be carved on Halloween. He swung around.

“What do you want?” he asked raising his voice three octaves above the sound of the crowd.

I froze thinking about my response. The last time I felt this humiliated, I was in Kindergarten. It was the first day of school and my Mother left me with a bunch of strangers without warning. I gathered my thoughts, stood tall, inhaled before responding. “I want more money for my students.”

The cheering of the crowd sent a spark of fire in my soul. I felt triumphant. I defeated the big scary giant in my path. Now I know how –  David felt when he slayed Goliath, Jack when he cut down the Beanstalk, and Joan of Arc leading her Army to victory. But the excitement was short-lived. The giant gained strength pulling out squashing techniques from his bully bag perched on the podium shelf. It was over. I was whipped, beaten, and defeated.

You may read the true story here: A Letter to Governor Christie of New Jersey

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