Friday, March 2, 2012

Governor Christie Brews up talk on school vouchers on MSNBC’s Morning Joe

The folks over at MSNBC's Morning Joe traveled to Fort Lee High School in New Jersey to brew up conversation on education reform in the Garden State. Among the guests was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who was characteristically passionate in his discussion of school choice and education reform. He even gave a shout out to the Opportunity Scholarship Act (OSA), which he—along with many Democrats—support.  In fact, he even predicted that the scholarship tax credit program would become law this year!

Christie has made education reform a centerpiece of his agenda during his first two years in office. The OSA would offer students from low-income families in the state's worst-performing school districts the chance to attend a great school via scholarships given out thanks to generous donors who would, in turn, receive a tax credit for their donation. 

But even with strong bipartisan support in both the Assembly and the Senate, the bill has yet to receive a vote. That's because the opposition to private school choice is strong and carries a great deal of influence, as the governor pointed out this morning:
[Unions] have made it very clear to me and to the legislature that [vouchers are] an unacceptable alternative and they will fight in every way they can. All vouchers of any kind: limited program, a pilot program of any kind. No chance.  That’s what they’ve said.
But don't just take Governor Christie's words for it. Read about what the head of the state's largest teachers union said himself last month.

To summarize, New Jersey Education Associated Executive Director Vincent Giordano said “Life’s not always fair, and I’m sorry about that,” when asked why poor students should not be able to receive a scholarship via a publicly funded private school choice program to escape failing schools.  After the comment, Governor Christie called for Giordano’s resignation, which has yet to come.  Also yet to come from the state’s union: an apology, or any solution to helping these students.

The folks on set at Morning Joe aren’t the only ones talking school choice in New Jersey.  Earlier this week, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, one of the state's most prominent Democrats, backed up the Governor’s educationreform package, including the OSA. Said Booker:
I hold no allegiance to a school delivery model. I really don’t care if you’re a charter school, a magnet school, a traditional district school. The question is: Are you providing quality education?
So why is an education policy that is supported by a Republican governor, a Democratic mayor, and many other elected officials of both parties still stuck in the legislature?  That's a great question to ask New Jersey leadership in the State Assembly.

In the meantime, watch this video from this morning’s Morning Joe and learn about what else the Governor had to say about school choice and education reform in the Garden State!

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MSG

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