Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Delayed Outrage

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Delayed Outrage

Article excerpt

THE REV. Kenneth Clayton was all smiles when Governor Christie came to St. Luke Baptist Church in Paterson on Tuesday to hold a town-hall-style meeting. Days later, Clayton was no longer smiling. He was outraged. So are we -- with Clayton.

Clayton is demanding that Christie apologize to Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. In the give-and-take of the unscripted event, the governor referred to Oliver as the "African-American female speaker of the Assembly." Oliver is "appalled" by the governor's comments.

Appalled? Please. This is politics. This is about Democrats desperately trying to paint the governor as racist despite the fact that no one was upset by the governor's remarks in the context in which they were delivered. Christie was trying to make a point about the Opportunity Scholarship Act, who was supporting and who was blocking.

That bill would in effect give students vouchers to leave failing public schools and attend private schools. Businesses would fund the program with tax money that would have gone toward public schools in their respective districts. The mechanics of the bill are more complicated than this simple explanation, but Oliver has concerns about the bill. We do as well.

New Jersey has a constitutional requirement to educate all its children, not just the children whose parents will fight for them to enter a private or charter school. We also know that there are not enough alternative schools for children in cities like Paterson. The solution is to fix public schools, not abandon them. The Opportunity Scholarship Act is a half measure that will offer a life raft to some students while letting others drown. It is not good enough.

But Clayton is not outraged over education or the languishing education bill. He believes Christie was disrespectful to Oliver because instead of referring to her by name, Christie said Oliver was the black female Assembly speaker. Christie's comments were racial, not racist. There is a difference. …

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