Senator Tom Kean, Jr. and Senator Raymond Lesniak said today that dismissive comments made by NJEA Executive Director Vincent Giordano about school children in chronically failing districts make a compelling case for school choice.When asked about children in failing districts whose families did not have the resources to pay for private education, Mr. Giordano responded, “Life’s not always fair and I’m sorry about that.”
Kean and Lesniak are prime sponsors of the Opportunity Scholarship Act (OSA), which would provide privately funded scholarship grants to children in consistently low performing districts to attend a public or private school of their choice.
“Mr. Giordano’s remarks in opposition to OSA show a startling contempt for children and parents of limited means who are forced into failing schools by virtue of their zip code,” said Kean (R- Union). “His remarks, however, actually strengthen the argument in favor of the bill: that the educational establishment is not able or interested in providing an immediate remedy for students in these districts.”
Kean said that OSA does not abandon public education. Rather, it recognizes that long term structural changes are needed to fully address deficiencies in chronically failing schools. “Children should not be condemned to a subpar education while their schools are being improved; a process that will take a great deal of time,” he said.
“Life is only unfair when we don’t have the courage to change the things we can,” said Senator Lesniak (D- Union), “And it will continue to be unfair as long as those with the ability to do something to make it fair stand idly by and become resigned to the unfairness. Children from poor families forced to go to chronically failing schools deserve an opportunity to get a quality education. They deserve better from all of us.”
Both Senators plan on reintroducing the legislation, which was not considered by the full Senate last session.