NJEA President Barbara Keshishian issued the following statement on the passing of longtime Congressman and public education advocate Rep. Donald Payne:
“NJEA extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of U.S. Rep. Donald Payne. Rep. Payne was a committed advocate for children and public education throughout his nearly quarter-century career in the United States House of Representatives.
“A former teacher himself and a member of the Education and Labor Committee, Rep. Payne fought for funding of ESEA and IDEA, federal programs that support educational opportunities for public school students. He helped New Jersey students get a head start on academics by providing aid for early childhood education and afterschool programs. Rep. Payne was also instrumental in making higher education more affordable for countless Americans. He pushed for the passage of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which increased Pell grants and provided loan forgiveness to public service employees with student loan debt.
“Rep. Payne was always accessible to NJEA members, who share fond memories of his life and public service. His voice, experience and wise leadership will be sorely missed.”