Christie Calls NJEA a Bully that Should be Punched First

A day after the governor pummeled Assembly Democrats over his tax cut plan, he kept up the fight over his school voucher program, known as the Opportunity Scholarship Act. Today, he called out the teachers union as a bully that should be “punched first,” to a friendly audience at a national policy summit of the American Federation of Children, a group calling for school choice and vouchers.

Christie took aim at Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver for failing to act, saying she “is the person now who stands most in between students and their families who would benefit from the Opportunity Scholarship Act and its reality.”

Oliver responded to the attack by stating, “If the governor thinks I’m the only one standing in the way of the bill, then I challenge him to get it though the Senate first.”

The two day conference in Jersey City features some of the nation’s biggest supporters of school choice. Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal are also speaking.

Supporters say the public school system is failing poor neighborhoods and disadvantaged kids the most.

“I join with the governor, the Speaker needs to step up to the plate and exercise leadership,” said Reverend Reginald Jackson, Executive Director of the NJ Black Ministers Council.”

The Opportunity Scholarship Act would offer school vouchers to parents in select districts where schools are performing the worst. Opponents says state resources should go to improving the public schools instead. An NJEA spokesperson said “being called a bully by the governor is the highest irony.”

Reporting from Jersey City, Andrew Schmertz files this report.