Christie to Name NJ Education Chief

Friday, Dec 17, 2010  |  Updated 2:43 PM EDT
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Christie to Name NJ Education Chief

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LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey speaks as California Republican Party gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman looks on during a campaign event for Whitman on September 22, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Christie is in California to campaign politically for the Republican candidate Whitman for California governor. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Meg Whitman;Chris Christie

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is crossing the Hudson River for his next education commissioner, tapping a former New York City education official who also helped Mayor Michael Bloomberg's last re-election campaign.

The governor will nominate Christopher Cerf, a 56-year-old former New York City deputy schools chancellor who helped Bloomberg win re-election last year, said a state official briefed on the pick who is not authorized to publicly comment on the matter and spoke to The Associated Press only on condition of anonymity.

The Education Department has been led by an acting commissioner since Christie fired Bret Schundler in August after the state lost $400 million in federal education aid.

Cerf went to work for New York public schools in 2004, and he closed 90 failing schools and boosted the city's charter school options during his tenure. He left the deputy chancellor's post last year to become senior adviser on education for Bloomberg's campaign.

He currently heads Sangari Education, which provides science and engineering materials to students across the globe.

Christie's office declined to comment on the nomination Friday, as did Cerf, who was reached at his home in Montclair.

"When he's ready to make an announcement, he will," said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said.

Cerf, a former high school history teacher, attended Amherst College in Massachusetts. He went to Columbia University Law School, clerked for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and worked for President Bill Clinton as an associate counsel.

Before working in New York, Cerf was president of the world's largest for-profit operator of public schools, Edison Schools Inc.

His selection was first reported by The Star-Ledger of Newark and The Wall Street Journal.

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