Christie Wants NJEA Chief To Quit Over Comments About Poor And Vouchers

TRENTON, NJ (AP / CBSNewYork) – Gov. Chris Christie called for the leader of the New Jersey’s teacher’s union to resign Wednesday, after the union chief said “life’s not always fair” while discussing how poor families can’t afford private schools – and union opposition to vouchers that could help them do so.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney On The Story

New Jersey Education Association chief Vincent Giordano made the remark in an interview over the weekend on NJTV during a discussion focusing on school vouchers, which would in some cases let students use public money to attend private school.

When pressed on the dilemma faced by parents who can’t afford to remove their children from failing schools, Giordano replied: “Life’s not always fair and I’m sorry about that.”

He went on to say: “We should work more closely with administrators and with this administration and we should provide the best possible education within our public schools. Our public schools are among the best in the nation. There are areas, urban areas in particular, that are challenging and that’s where we should be focusing more of our energy and more of our efforts.”

The union issued a statement late Tuesday saying Giordano acknowledged his words could have been misinterpreted. Giordano meant to stress that providing vouchers to a select few students is not the way to address the challenges faced by urban schools, the union said.

Christie, a Republican who has clashed repeatedly with the teachers union over his proposed education reforms, called the “life’s-not-fair” comment “outrageous” at a town hall meeting in Westfield and called for Giordano to resign.

“He should resign today,” said Christie on Wednesday. “What isn’t fair about life is the fact that guys like Vince Giordano or women like Barbara Keshishian pretend to represent what teachers what teachers in the state really think and I don’t believe it’s what teachers in this state think. I believe teachers get into teaching because they want every child to do better.”

Democratic lawmakers also expressed outrage at Giordano’s comment. Democratic state Sen. Ray Lesniak, a co-sponsor of a bill that would provide grants to children in low-performing districts to attend a public or private school of their choice, said the remark showed “a startling contempt for children and parents of limited means who are forced into failing schools by virtue of their ZIP code.”

What do you have to say? Sound off in the comments section below!

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Echo

    If the teachers are paying this guy over a quarter of a million dollars a year to represent them, they might want to look for a replacement. If families are given vouchers equivalent to what the state already pays for them to be in a bad school and it gets them into a good school what’s the problem? It’s insane for the education system to fund children sitting in non-learning environments. Give them vouchers and get them learning.

  • SokrMom

    Christie refuses to work to improve the public schools in areas with low tax bases, because he prefers to use right-wing union-busting tactics that destroy the best thing about New Jersey–the excellent education available in most communities here. Unions made the American middle class, and destroying the unions completely would destroy the American middle class. Christie sometimes sounds reasonable, but in fact he is a misguided zealot.

  • Mack Seagrave

    Gov. Christie has been traveling with and singing the praises of Mitt [Rich CEO] Romney who recently said, “I’m not concerned about the very poor,” … “There’s a safety net there…” I guess the way ‘Fatso’ sees it, it’s okay for him and his rich CEO’s friends to dump on the poor but it’s not okay for a union president to say, “life’s not always fair” while discussing how poor families can’t afford private schools. Sounds amazingly like Christie is GUILTY of maintaining double standards …

  • whateverNJ

    They should sumo wrestle to settle this

  • NYGirl

    You know what Mr. Giordano is absolutely CORRECT. There will always be the have and the have nots on this planet. Of course people should help the poor and especially poor children, but that doesn’t mean taxpayers are responsible for it. People earn what they get in life. This nation is becoming a nation of entitlements. There are reasons in life why everything happens and maybe being poor was the destiny GOD or you chose for yourself for whatever reason. Same with being rich. There is plenty of help for the poor in this country. Try being poor in Africa.

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