“My mother used to say, you can be anything you want to be, but parents in Newark, Trenton, Jersey City, and Camden cannot say that,” Gov Chris Christie told the receptive crowd at Jeb Bush’s Excellence in Action conference tonight.  “It’s a system to serve the adults, not the students.”

Gov Christie gave a great speech—disheartening, funny, moving, and finally rousing.  Here are a few more highlights:

“It’s not a D or R issue.  Some Democrats serve some of the most ill-served children in the state.  We have to agree that it’s unacceptable.”

“Voting is no longer the seminal civil rights issue, it’s education.  Minority children are being denied opportunity.”

“In New Jersey, we spend an average of $18,000/student — nearly $25,000/student in Newark — yet there are 205 chronically failing schools; 40% of African American students fail to meet any standards; 30% of 8th graders fail basic math in 8th grade.”

“For anyone that believes the fallacy that money equals quality, come to New Jersey and see.”

“A parent at Robert Treat Academy…knew the lottery was the difference between college and jail for her son.”

“What if they told the truth on back-to-school night: Mrs. Smith is really awful, kids hate coming to school, we can’t get rid of her, have a great year!”

“It is not acceptable any longer to keep an ineffective teacher in the classroom…it kills opportunity, it kills esteem—it leads to a myriad of other problems.”

“I’m impatient because I don’t want any more of those little boys or girls in America.”

“High-performing charters show the way; we should be learning from what works and doing it in all schools, but it means tearing up union contracts.”

“We are right for the teachers who watch in silent horror as a lousy teacher down the hall gets the same pay.”

“We can’t let this moment pass us by…our children need us to remember they are the future.”

“Bipartisanship can work if focused on [the children] and not us.”

“We can’t back down from status quo, but the roots are deep  and the special interests are entrenched.  But there are real consequences for current and future generations.”

“I’d rather lose an election than regret not doing enough for the kids of our state.  I already got the big oil painting.  The only difference is the small brass plaque that will say 4 years or 8 years.”

“You can be anything you want to be…and it came true but it’s up to all of us.  We have to stand together.  This is the fight worth having.  We have to have the courage to care more about children than adults.  We have to have the courage to stand up to the adults that say it’s not possible.”

“Our children will judge us.  What will our children say about us?”

“This is our moment.  It is time to seize it to keep the covenant.”

“Failure cannot be an option.”

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