A ranking exec of New Jersey’s largest teachers union said “life’s not fair” to parents of children in failing public schools. Yesterday New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called his comment disgusting and disgraceful, and called on him to resign.
The voucher debate
Vincent Giordano, Executive Director of the New Jersey Education Association, made the remark on a New Jersey public-television station on Sunday. RealClearPolitics has the transcript and the video (but not any embed code). Giordano was on the program to discuss vouchers that parents could use to help defray the cost of private schooling. (Vouchers from the State are an option for one reason above all: New Jersey’s Constitution says that the government “shall” set up and keep a “thorough and efficient system of free public schools” for children in the State between five and eighteen years old.
Rafael Pi Roman, host of New Jersey Capitol Report, opens the segment with “the argument that [most] voucher supporters make.” That is: when a school is not giving its pupils a good education, a well-off mother can take her child out and send the child to a private school. Not all mothers can afford this. Question: why shouldn’t these less-well-off mothers have the same option that the well-off mother has? Giordano’s answer:
Those parents should have exactly the same options and they do. We don’t say you can’t take your kid out of the public school. We would argue not and we would say ‘let’s work more closely and more harmoniously’…
In other words, the teachers union boss is saying, “Keep the kids in the public schools and let’s work it out for them to stay there.” But before that, he tried to beg the question: “We don’t say you can’t take your kid out of the public school.” His host then said,
They can’t afford to pay! You know that!
Whereupon Giordano said:
Life’s not always fair and I’m sorry about that.
Answers to the teachers union
Even an editorialist at The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ) couldn’t stomach that.
We all know that life isn’t always fair. We get that. But who wants to hear it from a teachers union official pulling in a salary of more than a quarter-million dollars? To make matters worse, [he aimed] his comment…at poor kids stuck in lousy schools.
Govenor Christie had harsher words:
I cannot express how disgusted I am by that statement by the head of the largest teachers union in our state. But I also have to tell you I’m not the least bit surprised….I think it so succinctly captures what their real position is.
Chrsitie called on Giordano to resign. And failing that, Christie called on NJEA President Barbara Keshishian to fire him.
The NJ teachers union in perspective
Neither thing might happen. The New Jersey Education Association is notorious among teachers unions for protecting the interests of teachers over the interests of their pupils. They also are famous for tasteless remarks and demonstrations.
- In April of 2010, Joe Coppola, the head of the Bergen County teachers union chapter, sent a memo on a school account “praying” for Christie’s death. (That was too over-the-top even for Keshishian.)
- That spring, voters defeated 58 percent of school budgets. The NJEA, undaunted, unrepentant and defiant, vowed to press for more “goodies.”
- The State Senate Economic Growth Committee sat outdoors to pass its Opportunity Scholarship Act. They did this after teachers union members took every vacant seat in the committee room gallery. When Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-20-Union) asked them to move, they refused. So he said, “We’ll have it outside.” And he did.
- In October of 2010, the colorful videographer James O’Keefe sent two associates under cover into the teachers union convention in Atlantic City. Apart from the spectacle of a teachers union convening in Atlantic City, the two agents captured embarrassing footage showing how teachers really did (not) care about their jobs or their pupils.
If Vince Giordano’s “life’s not always fair” remark says anything, it’s that nothing has changed in New Jersey’s largest teachers union. They care no more today for the pupils in their charge than they did then. For that reason they ran out of friends in New Jersey and lost even their friends in the media.
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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