Beginnings, endings, and achievements

June is a month of possibilities; the school year ends and a new season begins, students graduate and move on to new adventures, and colleagues retire and begin new chapters.

This issue of the NJEA Review is the last one in which I will address you as president. A new trio of officers begins their terms in September, marking a new era for our organization. I am so proud of the team that will be taking office in September: Sean M. Spiller, NJEA president; Steve Beatty, vice president; and Petal Robinson, secretary-treasurer.

I also am very proud of the work that I have done over these past 12 years as an officer, and particularly the last four as president. In that time, we set a goal to fight for Chapter 78 relief for our members, and we achieved that goal. We sought Job Justice for educational support professionals, and we won new protections and consideration for them and the valuable work they do. We worked diligently with Gov. Murphy to fully fund the pension, and thanks to those efforts, we achieved a full payment a year ahead of schedule.

In countless other ways, we worked to improve the lives of NJEA members, their families and the students we serve. We put greater emphasis on social, racial and economic justice. We contributed to charitable and community-building efforts statewide. We advocated for a common-sense approach to standardized testing and evaluation. We instituted the Teacher Leader Academy and helped many educators find a path that satisfied their personal and professional goals.

These are all proud achievements, but the thing that I will remember from my years as an NJEA member, leader and officer will be you—the members I got to know through the course of my work and who impressed me continuously with their passion, commitment and dedication to our students.

NJEA members have built the best system of public education in the nation, as recognized  by Education Week and U.S. News & World Report.

I will always be proud of the work that we have done together, and I will always hold a special place in my heart for my colleagues in education. Thank you for your support and encouragement, your advocacy and diligence, and your compassion and commitment.

In unity,

Officers online

Marie Blistan

@MarieBlistan: Elections matter. Thank you, President Biden & VP Harris for your commitment to helping our country emerge from this pandemic and your priority for our children’s welfare!

On April 28, Blistan tweeted her praise for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris after NEA released a report detailing the profound impact that President Biden’s first 100 days in office have had on public education. Blistan celebrated the president’s commitment to children as the cases of COVID-19 began to decrease across the country.   

Sean M. Spiller

@SpillerforNJEA: I just wrote a @theactionnet letter: Urge the federal government to grant NJ’s assessment waiver request. Write one here.

On March 27, Sean M. Spiller shared with his Twitter followers that he just completed an online action, led by NJEA, that urged the federal government to cancel standardized tests in New Jersey this year. In response, the USDOE approved a proposal to administer the Start Strong assessment this fall, rather than the NJSLA this spring. The Start Strong assessment is less of a disruption to teaching and learning and provides immediate results on which educators can act.

Steve Beatty

@Steve BeattyNJEA: Fantastic evening spent honoring the ESPs from the Jersey City Para-Professionals Association! The backbone of our schools and communities in so many ways—we could not do what we do without all of you. Congratulations to all of the honorees—a great presentation by JCPPA and president Keith Olkewicz!

On May 7, Steve Beatty shared photos from the Jersey City Para-Professionals Education Association’s (JCPPEA) Para-Professional of the Year event. The event, which all three NJEA officers and NEA Vice President Princess Moss attended, honored the ESPs of the JCPPEA. In his Facebook post, Beatty celebrated the essential role that ESPs play in schools and communities and shared his praise for JCPPEA president, Keith Olkewicz.

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