"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, February 10, 2012

Christie Goes After Education Law Center and NJEA Leader

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is going head to head with the state's teacher union and the Education Law Center as part of his continued march towards school privatization and deep cuts in public education funding.

Who will resign first?

From the Asbury Park Press

Christie rebuffs NJEA’s request he resign, saying “Life isn’t fair”

Gov. Chris Christie, whose call for the New Jersey Education Association’s executive director to resign was met by a suggestion by the union that the governor step down, not surprisingly isn’t quitting.

In a Statehouse news conference today, Christie kept his answer succinct — at least at first — when asked to chime in on Vincent Giordano saying that Christie, not he, ought to be the one leaving.

“My reaction to Vince asking me to resign is: Life isn’t fair. I’m not going to resign,” Christie said.

Giordano’s not quitting, either.

Asked later if he was keeping his answer brief to put Wednesday’s brimstone behind him, Christie said that wasn’t the case — and then, to prove the point, spoke for five minutes reiterating his disgust that Giordano dismissed providing tuition aid to students to help them leave failing urban schools in part by saying “life’s not always fair.”

“No, I was just trying to be cute,” Christie said. “I was trying to broaden my portfolio.”

“People misspeak all the time. I’ve been known to do that once in a while. But, see, I think that’s what they really believe. I think they really believe that poor children and their families shouldn’t have the right to leave a failing school because it will affect their membership. It will affect the dues they collect. And it will affect his $500,000 in compensation,” Christie said.

The fight with the NJEA has widened into the latest in a years-long battle between Christie and labor unions.

Bob Master, District 1 legislative and political director of the Communications Workers of America, contrasted Christie’s condemnation of Giordano with his lack of a reaction to recent comments by presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who said he’s not concerned about the very poor because there are safety net programs in place.

“Where was Gov. Christie’s anger when his friend Mitt Romney said he does not care about poor people?” Master said. “The governor seems to be suffering from a case of selective outrage, and — surprise, surprise — it is hard working public employees that have made him mad again.”

Christie said Giordano’s comments differed from Romney’s in a few ways.

“They’re different because if Giordano’s remarks were inconsistent with his life’s conduct, then he could get the pass that Mitt Romney got. By the way, let’s remember that Mitt Romney apologized for those remarks, and Vince Giordano has not, to this point,” Christie said.

“But secondly, there’s nothing in Mitt Romney’s history to show that he has anything but great care and concern for the disadvantaged, giving millions and millions and millions of dollars to charity to help not only his church, who reaches out and helps the disadvantaged, but also other charities that help the disadvantaged across time,” he said. “Vince Giordano’s professional career has proven that he cares more about protecting a failed status quo that is undeniably failing urban children and their families than he cares about making real change.

“And so the difference is the conduct that underlies the comments. If the comments were inconsistent with what his professional record had been, then you just give a guy a pass, if he’s willing to apologize for them, for having misspoken,” Christie said. “But, one, he hasn’t apologized. And, two, in my opinion it’s not inconsistent with the conduct of him as executive director of the NJEA.”

Christie added the Education Law Center to his targets Thursday, saying the decades of litigation by the Newark-based law clinic has driven up spending on education while hurting results.

“That statement was so appalling and such a window into their philosophy about public education,” Christie said. “The biggest window was as a defense, he’s using it as a defense that he’s a founding member of the Education Law Center. I would hang my head in shame to say I was a founding member of the Education Law Center. That place has done more to ruin education in New Jersey than any single organization I’ve ever seen.”

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