The New Jersey Education Association has endorsed Democrat Barbara Buono for Governor.

Barbara Buono addresses the NJEA (YouTube)

“Barbara Buono has supported public education for her entire career in the Legislature,” said NJEA President Barbara Keshishian in a statement on the NJEA website and texted to members. “She is a proud graduate of New Jersey’s public schools, and understands the vital role they play in the aspirations of middle class citizens.”

The NJEA PAC Operating Committee offered the endorsement after both Buono and Governor Chris Christie were interviewed by a screening committee. Buono addressed the Delegate Assembly in Trenton on Saturday and accepted the endorsement.

“You represent the men and women who have made it their life mission to educate and to shape our children. You have come together with one voice and you are saying loud and clear 'It's time for a change New Jersey," said Buono.

“We genuinely appreciate Governor Christie’s willingness to participate in a candid and thoughtful conversation with our screening committee,” said Keshishian, who has exchanged words publicaly on a number of occasions during his administration over funding, pensions and salary.

"We are obviously not surprised about the endorsement," Mike DuHaime, the governor's chief political adviser, said Saturday. "While there have been areas of disagreement, there have also been examples of working together for the benefit of our state's kids, such as the new tenure reform law signed last year."

The Associated Press contributed to this story