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N.J. Ed. Commish: Race to Top's First Casualty?

New Jersey Education Commish Bret Schundler might soon be out of a job. The man that the New York Times said was once described by teachers' union brass as "the antithesis of everything we hold sacred about public education" could be teetering because he negotiated a deal with the very unions that for years have considered him an archenemy.

Oh, the irony!

Schundler, a former mayor of Jersey City with well-known conservative bona fides, especially when it comes to things like vouchers, hammered out an agreement last week with the New Jersey Education Association as he worked to complete the state's round-two application. The NJEA, which did not sign onto the state's round-one application, has been engaged in a nearly constant battle with Schundler's boss, Republican Gov. Chris Christie, for months.

But a brief detente had been declared, and Schundler and his team were working with NJEA leaders in an effort to get them on board for the state's second bid for the federal grant money.

Oh, those pesky buy-in points!

Gov. Christie, who apparently read in the newspapers about the so-called "compromise" that his education commissioner and NJEA made on teacher tenure and merit pay, blew up. He declared the agreement null and void and publicly chastised Schundler for making those deals without his blessing. The governor, proving who was in charge, submitted the state's application with the proposals that the union objected to, and, in an interview with the Star-Ledger, declared that the deal Schundler had struck would have been a total cave-in to the union.

The story has been big news in New Jersey, with all sorts of speculation that Schundler is toast. The commissioner scrambled yesterday to denounce those rumors.

So, if Schundler does lose his gig, can we declare him the first high-profile casualty of Race to the Top politics? Are there others out there in the states?

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