NJEA weighs in on Newark plan

Published on Wednesday, February 19, 2014

NJEA Vice President Marie Blistan delivered a strong message to members of the Legislative Black Caucus in Newark last night:  It’s time to stand up against the “One Newark” plan that is closing public schools, causing social and political upheaval, and opening charter schools at an alarming rate.

That plan, being force-fed to Newark’s parents, students, teachers, school staff, and neighborhoods by the Christie administration’s hand-picked Superintendent of Schools, Cami Anderson, has the city in an uproar.

 Marie Blistan
NJEA Vice President Marie Blistan told a large crowd that "we must hold the Department of Education accountable for its abject failure to fund our urban schools (and) for its 20 years of bungled leadership in Newark."

Blistan told a large crowd that “we must hold the Department of Education accountable for its abject failure to fund our urban schools (and) for its 20 years of bungled leadership in Newark.”  Her remarks signified NJEA’s public entrance into the mushrooming controversy, where the vast majority of teachers and school staff are represented by an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.

NJEA represents more than 120 school nurses in Newark, and another 200 teachers and school employees.  The majority of teachers and school staff are members of the Newark Teachers Union.

The nearly three-hour hearing at Newark City Hall was organized by Sen. Ronald Rice (D- District 28) and Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-District 27).

‘An assault on public education’

Dozens of parents, educators, community leaders, and students packed the hearing listening to compelling testimony against the One Newark plan from an array of individuals.

“What the Christie administration and The Department of Education are attempting to impose on Newark is just the beginning of an assault on the very principles of public education across the entire state of New Jersey,” said Blistan in her testimony.

“We are seeing it in other state takeover districts – Paterson, Jersey City, and Camden – and we are seeing disturbing patterns emerging in other districts such as Montclair and Highland Park,” Blistan said.

Also testifying was Joyce McCree, president of the NJEA-affiliated Newark Teachers Association.

‘Not about Newark at all’

 Joyce McCree
Joyce McCree, president of the NJEA-affiliated Newark Teachers Association also delivered testimony to the Legislative Black Caucus.

“I’ve seen this district treated as a place to experiment with untested reform efforts, especially charter schools,” said McCree in her testimony.  “I’ve watched the number of charter schools explode and I’ve watched as they picked and chose and skimmed the best students away from our traditional public schools, only to discover that even when you choose your student body, it takes tremendous hard work to create a successful school.”

McCree said the “One Newark” plan “isn’t about Newark at all…it’s about an out-of-control Superintendent and Department of Education that think we aren’t strong enough to stop them from stealing our public schools out from under our noses.”

Blistan added that “Newark has been targeted for this attack because the Christie administration believes it is vulnerable and unable to fight back.”

As the crowd cheered in approval, she said, “The administration has clearly miscalculated…I intend to fight alongside everyone here to make sure you get the respect and the schools that you deserve.”


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