Murphy visits ESP and Legislative conferences

Ambassador Phil Murphy, NJEA’s endorsed gubernatorial candidate in the June 6 primary, has been making the rounds of Association events to meet members. Recently, he attended the NJEA Educational Support Professionals (ESP) Conference on Feb. 3 and the NJEA Legislative and Political Action Conference on Feb. 18.

“My door will always be open to you and there will always be a seat at the table,” Murphy said. “I will not make decisions that impact education in a bubble. I will always seek your advice and your ideas.”

School funding and educational support professionals

Murphy committed to fully funding the state’s school funding formula, known as the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) by such strategies as raising the millionaire’s tax and closing the tax loopholes that unduly benefit large corporations and millionaires. Under Christie, he said, SFRA has been underfunded by $8 billion.

“Fully funding the formula will relieve the pressure that has been placed on schools to cut costs by cutting corners,” Murphy said. “Hopefully it will end the practice of undertaking risky and questionable steps like privatizing the jobs of educational support professionals.”

Continuing to address ESP members, Murphy added, “You are professionals who should be part of the collective bargaining process. This is something I hold as a sacred trust between employers and employees. As governor, I will extend due-process rights to all ESPs.”

Chapter 78 and pension funding

Murphy made sure that members knew he was well aware that since the passage of Chapter 78, the pension and benefits reform law that was signed by Christie in 2011, public school employees are taking smaller paychecks home every year. He said that he would not have signed Chapter 78.

“I believe in the collective bargaining process, and there are lines you do not cross,” Murphy said. “Health benefits should be collectively bargained.”

Murphy committed to putting the state on a path to fully funding the pension systems and said that he supports a constitutional amendment requiring the state to make quarterly payments into the system.

Standardized testing

Murphy reiterated his opposition to the overuse of standardized tests as a measure student progress, the factoring of standardized test scores in teacher evaluations, and a passing score as a hurdle for high school graduation.

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