NJEA President Barbara Keshishian today labeled Governor Chris Christie’s comments to a group of students last Friday “irresponsible and out of control,” and accused him of “using students to advance a political agenda.”
Keshishian said NJEA members were angered by Christie’s comments to Trenton students, in which he said it was the “greedy teachers union” – and not his $1.3 billion in state aid cuts – that was responsible for the lack of supplies in their classrooms.
She cited a news article showing that teachers spend between $500 and $1,000 of their own money each year on school supplies.
“So much for ‘greedy teachers,’” Keshishian said.
In addition, a video clip of the conversation in the Trentonian features Christie ridiculing teachers for attending the two-day NJEA convention last week, saying that “if the union cared more about all of you learning, they’d be in school, baby, that’s right. They wouldn’t be down there having a party, which is all this is, it’s a party.”
“This governor’s comments are irresponsible and out of control,” Keshishian said. “Not only is he lying to students about the obvious impact of his massive cuts to public schools, but it is inconceivable that a governor would use such language with students in order to advance a political agenda. It’s one thing to disagree over policy issues, but demeaning teachers in front of their students is totally unacceptable behavior by the state’s chief executive. It raises serious questions about his character.
“Governor Christie clearly has a double standard,” Keshishian noted. “Last April, he unjustly and inappropriately accused teachers of using students as ‘drug mules’ while accusing teachers of telling parents how to vote in school budget elections. That was a blatant falsehood. And now he uses students for political purposes. Our members are justifiably outraged.”
Keshishian said Christie’s characterization of the NJEA Convention – the largest professional development event in the world for educators with over 300 workshops and seminars spanning two full days – is “particularly disturbing. He wouldn’t even let his Acting Commissioner attend an annual session at the convention with NJEA members, and he clearly has no clue about what happens there,” Keshishian said.
“He insults every school employee in New Jersey by telling students they are ‘having a party’ at the convention, and he owes each of them an apology for his reckless and cruel comments to impressionable young people.”