NJEA President Marie Blistan joined Cape May County Indivisible’s protest at President Donald Trump’s campaign rally at the Wildwood Convention Center on Jan. 28. Speaking to hundreds of protestors outside the convention center, Blistan inspired the crowd and encouraged all in attendance to stand against racism, classism, bigotry and hate.

Trump hosted the campaign rally in Wildwood to support former Democrat Jeff Van Drew, a member of Congress representing New Jersey’s southernmost district. Van Drew announced his switch to the Republican Party on Dec. 19.

Martin Luther King III, several Democratic candidates vying to unseat Van Drew in the November 2020 election, and others also spoke at the protest. All spoke of the importance of coming together during politically divisive times. They urged protesters to fight against the mistreatment of all people and emphasized the importance that organizing will play during the upcoming election cycle.

“Because of the work these members do every day for our students, our New Jersey public schools are rated number one in the United States,” Blistan said. “Yet, even here in New Jersey, our educators have been treated disrespectfully by some elected leaders. So anytime that there is an opportunity to stand up and model for our students what really makes our country great, our union of educators will show that there is another way!”

Blistan said that America’s children deserve leaders they can look to for hope and inspiration.

“Our union of educators is committed to teaching our students that our country is a place where any person or any child can dream and can make their dreams a reality,” Blistan said. “Yet, the education policies of this president threaten quality public education even in our great state of New Jersey.”

Blistan offered a sample of those harmful policies, stating that Trump:

  Supports private school vouchers so that the public schools will be economically starved.

  Has cut funding to public education through Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who has never attended, worked in, or sent her children to public schools.

  Reduced federal aid for preschool expansion, denying access to a level playing field for all children.

  Has threatened to eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

  Has proposed more than $7 billion in cuts for public education after passing a $1.5 trillion tax cut that benefited corporations and the ultrawealthy.

“We’re here today because when we teach our children that ‘they must be the change they wish to see in the world,’” Blistan concluded. “We tell them it means standing up for what you believe in.”

Blistan’s speech can be viewed in the online version of this article at njea.org

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