Repollet, State Board show commitment to progressive vision

New Jersey Commissioner of Education Dr. Lamont Repollet, joined three members of the State Board of Education at the NJEA Convention to discuss the complex issues facing the state’s public schools and to hear from NJEA member working in those schools. Kathy Goldenberg, Mary Beth Berry and Dr. Nedd Johnson represented the State Board.

More than 30 NJEA members posed questions to the panel, which was moderated by NJEA Vice President Sean M. Spiller.

Repollet opened the discussion expressing his vision for public education in the New Jersey. He emphasized collaboration between stakeholders, a commitment to working with educators, and the common bond among advocates on all sides of various concerns: the students we all serve.

“Our schools are so successful here in New Jersey because of the educators in those buildings,” Repollet said, as emphasized the role of the entire school team. “When I say educator, I mean every educator in the building—teachers, administrators, school bus drivers, paraprofessionals, custodians, health services worker, cafeteria worker, and every educator who contributes to the academic and social growth of a child.”

Repollet discussed the importance of working with advocates of various interests.

“We are all on the same team,” he reminded the room.

Rooting his vision for the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) on his extensive history as a classroom educator and school administrator, he outlined his ideas for an “NJDOE 2.0,” a department that he said would put educators first and that implements the agenda that Gov. Phil Murphy’s set forth during his campaign.

“We’ve got to expand access to pre-K for everyone, we need to make community college free for all, and we must implement innovative curriculum for every student, regardless of their ZIP code,” said Repollet on the direction of the new NJDOE. He reiterated that “we’re on our way to ending PARCC.”

Spiller helped moderate questions from NJEA members on a wide range of topics. Many focused on the future of funding for public school libraries and other areas of educational policy.

On a question regarding the continued use of PARCC in the current school year, Repollet emphasized the importance of getting the transition to a new system of standardized testing right.

“We do things deliberately,” Repollet noted. “We must do all things with intention. It’s a process to change a statewide standardized test, and we’ve begun that process.”

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