WESTFIELD – During a visit to Westfield on Wednesday for a town hall meeting, Gov. Chris Christie called for a New Jersey Education Association executive to resign following a controversial comment made on a television program Monday.
Vince Giordano, the NJEA’s executive director, appeared on NJTV’s “N.J. Capitol Report” program on Feb. 6. In response to a question about the Opportunity Scholarship Act, which is intended to help students from poor families attend better schools, Giordano told the program’s host, “Life’s not always fair and I’m sorry about that.”
“I cannot express how disgusted I am by that statement by the head of the largest teachers union in our state,” Christie said Wednesday, “but I also have to tell you I’m not the least bit surprised because I think it so succinctly captures what their real position is.”
“As Vince drives out of the palace on State Street in his big luxury car and his $500,000 salary, I’m sure life’s really fair for him and if Vince’s kids were in a failing school district he could afford to send them to any school in New Jersey that could help them succeed,” Christie added.
“I have no intention of resigning,” Giordano said in a statement Wednesday. “If [Gov. Christie] thinks he’s going to bully me like he bullies everyone else, he doesn’t understand who I am, or how deeply I care about the work I do. I have too much important work to do protecting New Jersey’s public schools from the disastrous education policies of this governor. In just two years he has done more damage to education than I have seen in nearly 50 years of service as a teacher and advocate for public schools.”
Since the governor took office, Christie and the state’s public school teachers’ union have been at odds.
Giordano acknowledged that his comment on the television program Monday could be misinterpreted, but re-articulated the NJEA’s position on the bill in a statement Tuesday.
“We oppose vouchers and other privatization programs because they will take resources from disadvantaged public schools and only exacerbate the challenges faced by students in those communities,” he said. “That will create a world that is even less fair, and we will not stand for that.”
Christie also had pointed words for three state Senators, Loretta Weinberg, (D-Teaneck), Ray Lesniak, (D-Elizabeth) and Paul Sarlo (D- Wood-Ridge), for comments they have made to the press about information in supposedly confidential questionnaires filled out by the governor’s Supreme Court nominees. The questionnaires themselves were obtained by the Newark Star-Ledger, and Christie also said that whoever leaked the documents may have committed a crime.
Wednesday’s town hall forum at the Westfield National Guard Armory was attended by approximately 600 people.
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