The head of New Jersey’s biggest teachers union is demanding that Gov. Chris Christie resign after he said the union’s national counterpart deserved a “punch in the face.”
Christie was appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” show for an interview Sunday with host Jake Tapper. Tapper brought up Christie’s routine suggestion that some of his enemies in New Jersey needed a shot to the mouth.
“During your first term as governor, you were fond of saying that you can treat bullies in one of two ways — quote — ‘You can either sidle up to them or you can punch them in the face,” Tapper said. “You said, ‘I like to punch them in the face.’ At the national level, who deserves a punch in the face?”
Christie didn’t hesitate, firing an immediate broadside against the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
“They’re not for education for our children. They’re for greater memberships, greater benefits, greater pay for their members. And they are the single most destructive force in public education in America. I’ve been saying that since 2009. I’ve got the scars to show it. But I’m never going to stop saying it, because they never change their stripes.”
Now the head of New Jersey’s AFT branch, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), says Christie’s comment was so offensive he should “resign as governor immediately.”
“Chris Christie’s instinct is always to threaten, bully and intimidate instead of build consensus and show true leadership,” said NJEA president Wendell Steinhauer. “Chris Christie has no credibility as a leader and he is an embarrassment to New Jersey. Our citizens deserve so much better. Even worse, he is a terrible role model to the children that our members work so hard to protect, nurture and educate.”
Christie has had a particularly adversarial relationship with unionized teachers in New Jersey, particularly on the issue of teacher pensions, as the question of how to fund pensions going forward without bankrupting the state has proven extremely contentious. Christie has frequently gotten in intense verbal spats with teachers at town hall events, creating videos that attracted thousands of views and helped to enhance his national reputation in his early years as governor.
Christie has not given any indication he plans to meet Steinhauer’s demand.
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