In the wake of Betsy DeVos’s controversial confirmation as Secretary of Education, NJEA members around the state have been seeking opportunities to make a difference in their schools, state and across the nation. Last night, nearly 300 Middlesex County educators did just that. At an event billed as “Heroes of Public Schools – Take a Stand for Education,” attendees learned about the power of union membership and how to harness it to advance political action around the issues that matter to them. Participants learned how the NJEA’s different divisions could help improve their local-level advocacy, and met staffers and volunteers from the Phil Murphy for Governor campaign, NJEA’s endorsed candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
The event, which was hosted by the Middlesex County Education Association and the Middlesex County NJEA UniServ office, included opportunities for members to take collective action for the public schools. Attendees shared ideas about making a difference in their schools. Local legislators also attended and thanked participants for their continued commitment to public education at a critical time.
Lois Yukna, president of the Middlesex County Education Association, addressed the room, stressing the importance that all members play in influencing public education policy. “Our legislators are so special because they do something that many have forgotten how to do: they listen,” she said. “They listen to our members and they seek our expertise. Now, more than ever, educators and ESP members need to be the stakeholders in the room when decisions are being made that affect education.”
While the night began with confusion, frustration and anger over the DeVos nomination, it quickly shifted towards a hopeful look into the future. As Gov. Christie’s tumultuous term as governor comes to an end, many educators look toward a brighter, more productive future for the state and for public education. With the upcoming governor’s race in mind, the group listened and discussed Ambassador Murphy’s gubernatorial platform.
If the NJEA members in your school or community are looking for a way to channel their political energy, consider hosting a “Take a Stand” event. Get started today by contacting your regional UniServ office.