Bipartisanship? You betcha!

ESP bill moving in legislature

Published on Monday, February 11, 2013

Annette RuchsAfter months of planning and organizing, and a week of phone calls and emails from members, a key piece of legislation to expand rights for Education Support Professionals is on the move.  It’s a good day for cooperation and common sense in New Jersey.

The Assembly Education Committee voted 7-0 earlier today to move A-3627 out of committee.  That bill, which would create common-sense rules governing when and how districts consider subcontracting the jobs of school employees, is a great example of how legislators on both sides of the aisle can work together for the good of all their constituents.

While the bill applies to almost all district employees, it will primarily affect ESPs.  They are the bus drivers, food service workers, custodians, secretaries and paraprofessionals who do countless things large and small every day to keep our schools running smoothly and make sure students have a great learning environment.

You can read about the bill here.  Suffice to say it brings a measure of stability to both district employees and to the students who rely on them every day.  It’s good for districts, good for employees and good for communities.

Not everyone realizes the important role ESPs play in our public schools, or just how vulnerable their jobs are.  But a handful of conscientious legislators in both parties have stood up to offer their support by supporting A-3627 and its companion in the Senate, S-1191. 

Special credit goes to Sen. Diane Allen (R-Burlington) and Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Union) for sponsoring the legislation in the Senate.  On the Assembly side, Asm. Herb Conaway (D-Burlington) and Asw. Connie Wagner (D-Bergen) sponsored the bill together. And kudos as well to the two Republicans and five Democrats on the Assembly Ed Committee who voted unanimously to send the bill to the full Assembly.

It’s not often that we find that sort of agreement on any issue relating to public employees in New Jersey.  When we do, we ought to make sure we act together to make our schools stronger and more stable.

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