NJEA executive director, who opposes reforms, to poor families: “Life’s not always fair”
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 8, 2012)—The leader of New Jersey’s largest teachers union dismissed the plight of low-income families across the state who are in desperate need of high-quality educational choices, saying in a recent local television interview that “life’s not always fair” while arguing against giving expanded educational options to students trapped in failing schools.
The American Federation for Children strongly condemned the insulting remarks from Vincent Giordano, the executive director of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), which indicate a clear and sad disconnect between the daily struggle faced by thousands of New Jersey families and the anti-reform agenda held by the state’s largest teachers union.
Giordano, who according to the Newark Star-Ledger collects annual compensation of more than $500,000, dismissed the Opportunity Scholarship Act (OSA), a proposed bipartisan bill that would create a scholarship tax credit program for children in chronically failing public school districts to attend the private school of their parents’ choice.
When asked about the financial reality that prevents tens of thousands of New Jersey parents whose kids attend failing schools from sending their children to higher-achieving institutions, Giordano responded with a demeaning comment that demonstrated his organization’s unwillingness to support policies that would directly benefit children from low-income families.
“Life’s not always fair and I’m sorry about that,” Giordano said.
Kevin P. Chavous, senior advisor to the American Federation for Children, called for an immediate apology from Giordano, whose remarks represent the latest efforts by the NJEA to oppose the OSA, putting them at odds with citizens as well as both Democratic and Republican legislators.
“While it’s sad to see such a belittling and uncaring remark from one of the state’s most powerful education voices, it’s unfortunately not surprising, considering the consistent and unwavering barrier Mr. Giordano’s organization has been to education reform in New Jersey,” Chavous said. “The NJEA has once again shown itself to be appallingly out of touch with the lives of New Jersey’s disadvantaged families, whose children are in desperate need of this educational option right now.”
Giordano’s comments came during an appearance on the “New Jersey Capitol Report” this weekend. Despite calls from numerous organizations, parents, advocates, and local education groups, he has yet to apologize for his remarks, instead doubling down on his opposition to reforms that have proven to help children nationwide.
“Mr. Giordano’s refusal to apologize for his remarks once again shows he and his organization’s callous disregard for the fact that thousands of New Jersey children remain trapped in schools that do not work for them,” Chavous said. “The NJEA claims to support disadvantaged kids, yet they refuse to acknowledge that every child matters and these kids need help right now. It’s time for Mr. Giordano and his fellow highly-paid special interest bureaucrats to stop blocking educational choices that the children of New Jersey so desperately need.”