Governor Christie is calling for the Executive Director of the New Jersey Education Association to step down…after comments he made about poor families during an interview on NJTV.

Vince Giordano - when discussing how poor families in Jersey can't afford to send their kids to better schools said "life's not always fair."

Following his latest town hall meeting in Westfield, the Governor said "I cannot express how disgusted I am by that statement - by the head of the largest teachers union in our state - but I also have to tell you I'm not the least bit surprised…because it succinctly captures what their real position is about education…not the position they put on their slick 30 second ads - when they say every child should have a great education - well, they mean every child except the ones in the failing school districts who shouldn't have a choice….it's an immoral position and it continues to prop up abject failure in districts across our state."

  • Watch a video library from Governor Christie's Westfield Town Hall.

Christie pointed out "there's a hundred thousand children trapped in two hundred failing schools across the state - I want their parents to have an opportunity to have choice - by having more charter schools - by improving our public schools through tenure reform and merit pay and ending Last In, First Out… recent test results show there's a dramatic achievement gap between wealthy and poor students in New Jersey…and that is an inconvenient truth that the teachers union cannot live with, because to acknowledge it would cut out the under-pinnings of the failed system that they are spending and distorting and fighting so desperately to keep in place…they'd rather pretend that this situation doesn't exist - than to actually deal with it and fix it."

He also said "as Vince drives out of the palace on State Street every day - in his big luxury car, with his 500 thousand dollar salary, I'm sure life's really fair for him…what isn't fair is that fact that guys like Vince Giordano and women like Barbara Keshishian pretend to represent what teachers in this state really think…if you wonder why I've been fighting for 3 years - that comment tells you why…that level of arrogance - that level of puffed up rich man baloney is unacceptable in this state - he should resign-he should resign today…it is the only honorable thing for him to do - because the teachers of this state deserve better than what he's giving them…and if he doesn't resign voluntarily then Ms Keshishian should finally do something worthwhile in the time she's had this job- and fire him…cause I'll tell you this, if somebody in my administration said something like that - to the poor and disadvantaged in this state - they would find their rear end on the sidewalk in two minutes."

The union issued a statement late yesterday saying Giordano acknowledged his words could have been misinterpreted, and he meant to stress that providing vouchers to a select few students is not the way to address the challenges faced by urban schools.

NJEA Executive Director Vincent E. Giordano's Response

“Governor Christie has stooped to a new low, even by his own standards. In his personal attack on me, NJEA president Barbara Keshishian and the New Jersey Education Association, he has demonstrated that there is no limit to his willingness to twist, distort and misrepresent the facts in a situation to satisfy his voracious appetite for political vengeance.

“I have no intention of resigning. If he thinks he’s going to bully me like he bullies everyone else, he doesn’t understand who am, or how deeply I care about the work I do. I have too much important work to do protecting New Jersey’s public schools from the disastrous education policies of this governor. In just two years he has done more damage to education than I have seen in nearly 50 years of service as a teacher and advocate for public schools.

“I serve on the Board of Directors of the Education Law Center, which has fought a 35-year battle to ensure educational opportunities for students in urban schools. Despite Gov. Christie’s efforts to renege on the promise of a thorough and efficient education for every child, the ELC has led the fight to hold him and his administration accountable.

“When this governor slashed funding for urban schools again last year, ELC sued on behalf of children in those districts. The New Jersey Supreme Court examined the facts and ruled his budget unconstitutional. It ordered him to provide over $500 million to students in urban districts to ensure that New Jersey’s vision for equal educational opportunity remains alive.

“The Supreme Court has never had to order me or NJEA to do the right thing by the students in our urban schools. We’ve been fighting for students in urban schools since governor Christie was a public school student himself. I helped start and serve on the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning which is bringing innovative, life changing programs to students in districts across New Jersey, including Newark, Jersey City and Paterson. NJEA has contributed $4 million to this effort over the last several years.

“While Gov. Christie has prioritized tax breaks for millionaires over funding for children, NJEA has continued to advocate for every child in New Jersey. And we do more than talk, we produce results. Long before Gov. Christie blew into Camden to claim credit for the Urban Hope Act, NJEA was working with the sponsors of that bill to ensure that the legislation would succeed and children would be the beneficiaries.

“It is especially galling to hear criticism over my choice of words from a governor who has called New Jersey students drug mules, told students in Trenton that their teachers did not care about them, threatened to take a bat to a respected female state senator and called an New Jersey Assemblyman “numb nuts” for having the courage to stand up to the Governor on the issue of marriage equality.

“I am proud of my record and NJEA’s record of standing up for innovation in public education on issues ranging from charter schools to magnet schools to intradistrict school choice to Renaissance schools. And I do not apologize for our strong stand against efforts to strip resources from struggling urban schools to subsidize private school operators’ profits, as the voucher bill advocated by the Governor would.

For his abysmal record on education and his hypocrisy in claiming to care about children in urban districts while pursuing policies that have hurt them deeply, I call on Governor Christie to resign from office immediately.”