Christie tees off on NJEA exec: ‘He should resign today’

WESTFIELD – Gov. Chris Christie today jumped on a comment made by N.J. Education Association Executive Director Vince Giordano in

WESTFIELD – Gov. Chris Christie today jumped on a comment made by N.J. Education Association Executive Director Vince Giordano in response to the plight of low-income residents who cannot afford options outside the public school system, calling on Giordano to resign immediately.

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“He should resign today,” Christie said. “Life should get a lot more unfair for Vince Giordano today, and he should resign.” Christie was steaming today following his town hall about the remarks, “that level of arrogance, that level of puffed-up rich man baloney.”

The comments came Monday during an appearance by Giordano on N.J. Capitol Report. In response to a question about poorer students who cannot afford private school, Giordano told the host, “Life’s not always fair and I’m sorry about that.”

Christie said, “I think (Giordano) has given voice to what the teachers union really thinks.” In particular, the question was about the Opportunity Scholarship Act, a bipartisan tax credit-for-scholarships program championed by Christie.

In response to criticism over the remark, the NJEA said Tuesday that Giordano “acknowledges that his choice of words may be open to misinterpretation, (but) his intent was to make the point that providing vouchers to a select few students is not the way to address the challenges faced by urban school districts.”

Giordano said in the email, “NJEA’s record of support for urban education and disadvantaged children is unimpeachable. For decades, we have supported better funding for urban schools to promote equal educational opportunity, and school improvement efforts like universal preschool and literacy programs…We oppose vouchers (the OSA program) and other privatization programs because they will take resources from disadvantaged public schools and only exacerbate the challenges faced by students in those communities.”

Christie tore into Giordano and the NJEA for their “palace on State Street” and his $500,000 salary, among other things.

“He’d be able to afford to send (his children) to any school in New Jersey,” Christie said. “But the kids in Camden, his answer is, ‘Life isn’t fair.’…Teachers in New Jersey deserve much better than Vince Giordano and (NJEA president) Barbara Keshishian.”

Giordano was equally critical of Christie in his response issued Tuesday. “Unfortunately, the governor and many of our critics continue to support tax policies that favor the wealthy over the needs of students in our most disadvantaged districts,” he said.

“This criticism is coming from people who gave a billion dollars in tax breaks to millionaires while cutting at least that much from our public schools. I’m not going to take criticism from people who think that’s the fair way to fund public schools.”

Christie tees off on NJEA exec: ‘He should resign today’