Highlights connection between education, social justice

NJEA Vice President Marie Blistan was honored tonight as a Woman of Excellence at an event hosted by Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-35). She joined other female educators, business leaders and elected officials in being recognized for her leadership and advocacy.

Blistan accepted the award on behalf of all NJEA members, and used the opportunity to highlight the excellence of New Jersey’s public schools.

Blistan called on everyone at the event to look for areas of common ground and to join together in advocacy on issues that should matter to all leaders, particularly in regard to students’ educational opportunities, citing the example of her own work pushing the state to ensure safe, healthy schools for every student. She noted that NJEA members’ working conditions are also our students’ learning conditions and pointed out that safe, healthy schools are not only an educational issue but a fundamental social justice issue.

Blistan also took the opportunity to highlight the importance of pursuing social justice in all spheres of leadership and life. She told the story of NJEA’s first female president, Elizabeth Allen, who rose to prominence in the organization as a result of her advocacy for the well-being of educators. Allen championed the first pension system for school employees, because she saw so many of her colleagues retiring to a life of poverty after long careers in education.

Blistan also thanks Assemblywoman Sumter for her advocacy on many educational and social justice issues.

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