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

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NJEA Chief Vincent Giordano and Gov. Chris Christie (file / credit: NJEA, Governor's Office)

NJEA Chief Vincent Giordano and Gov. Chris Christie (file / credit: NJEA, Governor’s Office)

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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.”

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(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.)

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