The NJEA Delegate Assembly met on Sept. 15, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency, New Brunswick, N.J., at 9:30 a.m. President Marie Blistan presided.
Dennis Carroll (Passaic) delivered the inspirational message and led the body in the flag salute.
Roll call was taken. There were 115 out of 124 delegates present. Alternates were seated as follows: Hicks for Siegel (Mercer); Strzykalski for Lewandowski (Middlesex); Brache for Rodrick (Monmouth); Finnigan for Fox (Ocean); Smith for Raye (Sussex), and Brown for Kruczek (Warren).
Absent were representatives Chau (Atlantic), Stinson (Camden), Carbonara (Cumberland), Robertson (Essex), Shibli (Hudson), Williams (Mercer), Lawler (Union), Hodge (Higher Education), and Capodice (Non-classroom).
Blistan asked if there was objection to adopting the agenda with flexibility. There was no objection.
The chair recognized Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty, who led a presentation honoring Dr. Larry Feiber upon his retirement from The College of New Jersey, where he served as the program coordinator for the Center for Future Educators. Dr. Fieber spoke briefly.
The chair called on John Zurka (Union) to present and move amendments to the Standing Rules, as proposed by the committee. The motion was duly seconded. The motion carried.
Blistan began her report by noting the recent death of former delegate and leader, Michele Yakopcic, for whom there was a moment of silence.
Blistan presented the remainder of her report as a State of the Union message, highlighting the following achievements from the prior year:
• The election of a pro-education, pro-union governor, and appointment of an education commissioner who works well with NJEA.
• The commitment by the state to transition away from PARCC to a new assessment system.
• The reduction in the weight of Student Growth Percentiles in teacher evaluations from 30% to 5%.
• The appointment of Blistan and Gayl Shepard as co-chairs of the governor’s education transition committee, and several other members and partners named to the committee.
• Holding a majority of seats on the TPAF Board for the first time.
• A new steering committee of both leaders and staff to guide the Chapter 78/ESP Job Justice Campaign.
• Stopping bills that would have forced county college members into a different health plan, and accelerated the erosion of public schools in Camden.
• The first increase in state school aid in eight years, and a record state pension contribution of $3.2 billion.
• Successful local elections in Jersey City, Paterson and elsewhere, with 60 affiliates conducting local or county endorsements.
• A new training program for Executive Committee members, designed and conducted by Executive Committee members.
• A new Charter School Task Force to review and communicate NJEA’s policies.
• A new PAC fundraising committee.
• The creation of the Equity Alliance, joining together the social justice work of five NJEA committees.
• Achieving 3-1(g) status at the NEA RA for the first time in years.
• Embarking on a review of the NJEA Constitution and Bylaws by the Constitution Review Committee.
• Continued success with the NJEA Priority Schools Program and the Labor Management Collaborative.
• The development of Teacher Leader regulations, enabling NJEA to create a Teacher Leader Academy.
Blistan concluded by acknowledging the challenges ahead, but expressing confidence because of these and other successes across the state and NJEA’s legacy of success.
Blistan then introduced UniServ-South Director Patrick Manahan to present NJEA’s new campaign to seek relief from Chapter 78, prevent subcontracting, and obtain due-process rights for ESP members. Manahan reviewed the broad parameters of the campaign, focused on asking every legislator to co-sponsor three bills in these areas, and then introduced representatives of the Statewide Steering Committee who would be working on the campaign. Bethanne Augsbach (Middlesex), Sue Clark (Gloucester), Eric Jones (Union), and Lois Yukna (Middlesex) each presented information on the campaign, including a kickoff meeting for all local association presidents.
Spiller reported on the State Board of Education meeting, including the commissioner’s decision to set the Student Growth Percentile at five percent for teacher evaluations, the lowest level ever. He noted this was in line with the governor’s commitment to end the use of student test scores for teacher evaluations.
The commissioner also proposed dramatically scaling back the PARCC test, which met with opposition from some board members as well as the unusual occurrence of the Senate Education Committee chair addressing the board, also in opposition. He encouraged delegates to contact the State Board members to express their support for the proposal.