Union Boss Tells Poor: “Life’s Not Fair” - Commentary

The hypocrisy of opponents of school choice schemes has never been a big secret. But rarely has that quality been so brazenly exhibited as by Vincent Giordano, the head of the New Jersey Education Association, in a recent interview on New Jersey public television. When asked why he opposes giving poor parents the same opportunity to take their kids out of failing public schools and into successful private or religious institutions the wealthy have, the teachers union boss, who makes more than half a million in salary and other compensation, replied: “Life’s not always fair.”

Giordano, who has been a major antagonist of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, has been doing his best to obstruct education reform in the Garden State. And, like all teachers union officials, he is ready to fight to the death to prevent school choice plans that would allow parents to use the money the state allocates to educate their kids to purchase better education than is often provided in failing public schools. But perhaps it is unfair to single out Giordano as he is no more of a hypocrite on this matter than President Obama.

Obama, it should be recalled, did his best to end a successful experiment in school choice in the District of Columbia that allowed some poor children to escape the collapsing D.C. public education system and go to elite private schools like the Sidwell Friends School. Of course, Sidwell happens to be good enough for the president’s two daughters but not for the poor.

Obama and his teachers union allies are determined to defend the public school monopoly at all costs and oppose all efforts to allow parents to use state aid to educate as they think best. Their top down model suits the unions and their liberal political allies but not the nation’s children. Their answer to the needs of the poor who are victimized by failing public schools is always a form of the “life’s not always fair” answer given by Giordano even when it is not uttered with such shamelessness.

The question that must be put to them remains the same that advocates of choice have been asking for decades: Are not the children of the poor made in the image of God the same as that of the wealthy? And if so, how dare our nation’s leaders and educators value their liberal ideological prejudices in favor of state schools over the best interests of the children?