This article is a summary of the March 18 meeting of the NJEA Delegate Assembly (DA), NJEA’s highest policy-making body. Once available, approved minutes of DA meetings are printed in the NJEA Review. Minutes of DA meetings can also be found online at njea.org/da.
The March 18 meeting of the NJEA Delegate Assembly (DA) began on an emotional note with an invocation delivered by Somerset County Delegate Laura Bochner. After reading Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus,” Bochner asked delegates to hold their hands aloft as torches.
“Everyone has heard these famous words written by Emma Lazarus, which are inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty,” Bochner remarked. “The torch, which is held in the Statue of Liberty’s right hand holds much significance, both to those in the past, as well as today.
“Ladies and gentlemen—you are the ones who hold the torch for our public school students. You are the ray of light that helps point them in the direction of their future. In fact, in some cases, you are the only light and ray of hope that a child sees in a day.
“And as you lift your hand high I charge you and challenge you to continue to hold this torch for the wonderful students of our New Jersey public schools. And with this in mind, please now place that torch over your heart and join me in the pledge to our great nation.”
NJEA sends nine representatives to the NEA Board of Directors, who are elected for three-year terms and are elected on a rolling basis. Directors are limited to two terms and are elected by the DA at its March meeting. This year, three seats were up for election. Three one-year term seats for NEA Director-Alternate were also up for election.
Incumbents Gary Melton Sr. of Atlantic County and Ann Margaret Shannon of Union County were nominated for re-election. Anita Kober was of Hudson County was nominated to serve her first term. With no additional nominees, Melton, Shannon and Kober were elected by acclamation.
For NEA Director-Alternate, Richard D’Avanzo of Union County, Ryan Griffin of Gloucester County and Jack Kimple of Hunterdon County were nominated and with no additional nominations were elected by acclamation.
Certain NEA Directors are elected to at-large positions at the NEA Representative Assembly. New Jersey’s James Frazier and Ashanti Rankin serve as NEA Directors representing educational support professionals.
NJEA’s more than 50 committees have been engaged in a multiyear project to streamline NJEA’s resolutions and policy positions to ensure they are consistent, up to date, and more easily accessible. At the March 18 DA meeting, delegates approved the policy recommendations of six committees: the Constitution Review Committee, the Educational Support Professionals (ESP) Committee, the Government Relations Committee, the Leadership Committee, and the Working Conditions Committee.
Delegates also approved six recommendations from the Strengthening Locals Evaluation Committee, with considerable discussion concerning adjustments to the formula for the Local Association Financial Assistance Program (LAFAP). The adjustments address the conditions under which LAFAP payments may be increased or decreased.
New Business Items 1 and 2, both brought forward by Delegate Chris Canella of Essex County, proposed that NJEA develop of a comprehensive LGBTQ+ advocacy and training program. The motions were referred to the appropriate committees, noting that those committees could include the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee, the Budget Committee, and the Professional Development Committee.
New Business Item 3 called upon NJEA to take the lead in calling for statewide day of action on May 1, International Workers Day, with a list of suggested actions. The motion carried.