Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, (D-34), shot back at the governor Tuesday after he accused the top Assembly lawmaker of blocking the state’s attempts at improving urban schools.
The speaker issued a statement following Gov. Chris Christie’s Paterson town hall, in which Christie blamed Oliver for blocking a school voucher bill from hitting the floor of the General Assembly. Christie told Paterson residents that students were being robbed of a future and argued school competition would spur change in failing schools.
“If the governor thinks I’m the only one standing in the way of the bill, then I challenge him to get it through the Senate first,” Oliver said in a statement.
“As I’ve said before, we welcome the governor to come to the table and discuss a compromise that does not further threaten our public education system,” she said, referring to the proposed Opportunity Scholarship Act, which would give low-income students at at-risk schools funding to attend schools outside of their district.
Oliver released the following additional statement Tuesday on Gov. Chris Christie’s comments regarding her and the Opportunity Scholarship Act today in Paterson:
“Upon learning more about what the governor said about me today, I want to make clear that I am appalled. I have never, nor will I ever, reference the Governor’s ethnicity, or make a veiled reference to the color of his skin, yet that’s exactly what Gov. Christie did today when discussing me, as if it was the 19th century. Governor – if you have a problem with me, call me by name. Do not reference my ethnicity to try to score cheap headlines and salacious YouTube videos. I will not stand for it. If the governor thinks the failure of this proposal to advance has anything to do with race, then he is even more misinformed than usual. The governor initially threw out expensive and ill-conceived ideas that were unworkable and did nothing to help children in our public schools. Gov. Christie needs to spend more time devising sound policy and less time playing racial polarization.”
During the town hall, Christie said urban residents were being let down by their elected officials.