Long cast as defender of the status quo, New Jersey's teachers union has begun presenting its own ideas for major changes to the state's public school system.
"No one has more invested in the success of our students and our public schools than NJEA members," said Barbara Keshishian, president of the New Jersey Education Association, which represents nearly 170,000 teachers and other school employees.
The union has clashed consistently with Gov. Chris Christie since before he took office in January 2010. Some of the Republican's biggest policy accomplishments have had a big effect on teachers. Thousands of them were laid off when he cut about $1 billion last year from the state's subsidy for local schools. At the time, he lambasted unions, saying it was their fault for not taking contract concessions.
He also has imposed a cap on property tax growth and forced teachers and other public employees to make bigger contributions to their retirement and health insurance plans.