Making a difference for all of our students

I love new beginnings. I see them as a fresh start to make the changes that I know need to be made, while continuing all of the wonderful things that are already going well.

As educators, we are afforded many new beginnings and fresh starts. Every new school day is a chance to make the adjustments we feel are necessary to have a successful day. The beginning of every week and month is another opportunity to look on our progress with fresh eyes.

But few occasions provide a better new beginning than the start of the school year.

Here in New Jersey, we have so much to be proud of—our public schools rank among the best in the nation in almost every indicator. We have caring, committed public school employees who do their best every day to advocate for the best interests of their students, their colleagues and their profession.

But we also have to look at the areas where we must improve, because every child must have access to an excellent education. We believe that education is the great equalizer and that through education, students can achieve their full potential and go on to lead successful, happy lives.

In New Jersey, we must face the fact that our schools are among the most segregated in the nation, and that students of color and those who face learning challenges are often not afforded the same opportunities and are treated more harshly in matters of discipline.

We can—and must—do better.

NJEA has been working on these issues for decades, but we now have a new opportunity to make a difference through the establishment of the Equity Alliance, which brings under one umbrella many different NJEA committees that are working to ensure that public education works for every child.

We know that you care about the students you serve; educators are, in fact, among the most vocal and vigilant advocates for children. United in our efforts, I know that we will make a difference in the lives of all of our students and ensure that New Jersey leads the nation in the best sense: as the finest system of public education for EVERY child.

Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for your tireless work in public education. I wish you a very happy, safe and successful new school year.

In unity,

Marie Blistan

Pictured above: An NJEA legend, for whom the NJEA Jack Bertolino Summer Leadership Conference is named, with NJEA’s officers. The conference was held Aug. 3-7. From left: Retired NJEA staff member Jack Bertolino, NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty, NJEA Vice President Sean M. Spiller, and NJEA President Marie Blistan.

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