Will push NJEA toward member empowerment, social justice
NJEA’s newly elected leaders take office today as the new school year gets underway across New Jersey.
President Marie Blistan, Vice President Sean M. Spiller and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty were elected by NJEA members in April.
Blistan is a special education teacher in Washington Township (Gloucester Co.). She previously served as secretary-treasurer and vice president of the 200,000-member New Jersey Education Association. She brings a passion for member advocacy and a deep commitment to social justice to her new role. Referring to the civil rights heroes she looked up to when she was growing up, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, she says, “I saw their passion for civil and human rights and I saw the acts of violence that tried to stop the progress of those embroiled in the struggle. Today, given what is happening in Charlottesville and elsewhere, it is our mission to educate our children and pursue racial, social and economic justice to counter the forces of evil in our midst. We must engage and empower members like never before. We must make sure that their voice is the voice of this union.”
Spiller, a high school science teacher in Wayne who previously served as secretary-treasurer, and Beatty, a social studies teacher from Bridgewater-Raritan who was more recently president of that local as well as the Somerset County Education Association, share Blistan’s commitment to member empowerment and social justice unionism.
Recently, in response to the events in Charlottesville, Spiller said, “If anyone still questions why educators must take a position on issues of racial and social justice, this weekend is the answer. We must fight ignorance with knowledge and fear with integrity. There is no place for neutrality when justice is on the line.”
Beatty also comes to his NJEA office committed to advancing the rights of members and working to build a more just society for our students, their families and all New Jersey residents. “I believe in the power of collective action,” says Beatty. “We are at our best as a union when we work together and pursue goals that help our members and our students, but also the communities where we live and work.”
Blistan outlined NJEA’s priorities and the new leadership team’s commitments in a recent Asbury Park Press interview. All three officers share a firm commitment to working with NJEA’s 200,000 members to achieve progress on the union’s top priorities, including real relief from Ch. 78, which is pushing down take-home pay for too many educators. Other priorities include funding for public education, from pre-K through college, restoring the health of the pension system, protecting and expanding the rights of Educational Support Professionals, and eliminating the widely-despised PARCC exam.
For more on NJEA’s new officers, read coverage in this month’s NJEA Review.
NJEA’s officers are elected by a vote of the entire membership. Elections are for two-year terms and individuals are eligible to serve up to two consecutive terms in any office.
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