TRENTON – A few lawmakers and politicos released statements today bashing N.J. Education Association’s executive director Vince Giordano for a remark he made during an interview with N.J. Capitol Report that aired this week.
In an exchange over the Opportunity Scholarship Act, a tax credit-for-scholarships program backed by Gov. Chris Christie, Giordano said the plight of the low-income parents was sad and unfair, but not a reason to change the system.
Asked why kids in failing schools shouldn’t have a chance to pursue other options, as the program would allow for, Giordano said the kids can leave anytime.
“They can’t afford it, you know that,” co-host Rafael Pi Roman shot back. “Some of these parents can’t always afford to take their kids out of…”
As he finished his sentence, Giordano replied, “Well, life’s not always fair and I’m sorry about that, but to suggest that we take money from taxpayers and give it to certain taxpayers to use to educate their kids outside of the public schools just seems to me to be kind of a [unintelligible phrase].”
The two prime sponsors of the OSA, state Sens. Tom Kean, (R-21), Westfield, and Ray Lesniak, (D-20), Elizabeth, released a joint statement today.
“Life is only unfair when we don’t have the courage to change the things we can,” Lesniak said. “And it will continue to be unfair as long as those with the ability to do something to make it fair stand idly by and become resigned to the unfairness. Children from poor families forced to go to chronically failing schools deserve an opportunity to get a quality education. They deserve better from all of us.”
Giordano is reportedly making over $270,000 per year just in salary, which in itself has incensed some critics in the past.
“Mr. Giordano’s remarks in opposition to OSA show a startling contempt for children and parents of limited means who are forced into failing schools by virtue of their zip code,” said Kean. “His remarks, however, actually strengthen the argument in favor of the bill: that the educational establishment is not able or interested in providing an immediate remedy for students in these districts.”
The NJEA was not immediately available for a response.
Douglass Mayer, communications director for the Republican State Committee, said, “For Mr. Giordano to chalk up the devastating achievement gap in New Jersey to ‘life’s not fair’ makes clear just how tone deaf and self-motivated the NJEA is when it comes to education reform.”