It wasn’t long ago that the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) could be relied on to rail against the inadequacies and inequities suffered by the state’s poorest school children.
But now there are lingering questions about who the union is actually fighting for these days.
I join in condemning the offensive attitude displayed by NJEA boss Vincent Giordano, who simply dismissed the critical needs of poor children in failing schools by saying “life’s not always fair” – the modern-day equivalent of “let them eat cake.”
Media as diverse as The Star-Ledger, Politico, and BusinessWeek were all reporting the controversy, eagerly looking for leadership in the New Jersey Legislature to voice their concern, if not outright outrage, over the remarks.
But no one is talking. What exactly is the ongoing silence of our leaders telling us? Does it mean they are not dismayed – or worse – on some level, agree with Mr. Giordano’s sentiments?
One may never know. But if nothing else, Mr. Giordano’s basic disposition towards poor children's education underscores the real need for school choice in New Jersey.
The entire school choice issue can be summed up by two opposing positions:
- School choice advocates suggest we can do better and educate all children – if we are willing to adapt.
- Others, such as the NJEA, contend we cannot do any better than the public schools, which often fail to graduate 70 percent of students in some urban areas, despite the highest per-pupil spending in the world.
Let common decency decide which position is most human.
The fact is the proposed Opportunity Scholarship Act (OSA) stands in stark contrast to Mr. Giordano’s callous opinion with respect to poor children. The OSA offers children another chance – when life is not so fair.
We all need to stop playing games with the lives of children in chronically-failing schools and pass the OSA now.
Rev. Lance A. Mann First Mount Zion Baptist Church
- 208 Broadway
Newark, NJ 07104
Rev. Michael J. Jordan Mount Olive Baptist Church, East Orange
- 11 Ashland Avenue
East Orange, NJ 07017-2201
Rev. Vincent M. Rouse Pleasant Grove Baptist Church
- 198 Chadwick Avenu
Newark, NJ 07108
Rev. Andre L. Coffee First Timothy Baptist Church
- 215 Chancellor Avenu
Newark, NJ 07112
Rev. Shawn T. Wallace People's Baptist Church
- 470 15th Avenue
Newark, NJ 07103