“Power to the Polls” was the theme at the Women’s March in NJ, as thousands gathered to focus on the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.  The event, which was organized by Elizabeth Meyer, a former New Jersey public school teacher, and whose sponsors included NJEA, was held on the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration.  Men and women of all ages were present in a show of solidarity to protect women’s rights, advocate for our children’s future, and to lend their collective voices to the #MeToo movement.

The message of the marchers to those in elected office was aptly summed up by the President of the Morris County Council of Education Associations, Laurie Schorno, in a quote by Mother Theresa:  “None of us alone can change the world, but each of us can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples”.  Schorno, an educator who has dedicated herself to the youth of Morris County for 30 years, made an impassioned appeal to the crowd that “if we throw stones together, those ripples can become waves!  Let’s go make some waves!”  She went on to say that “our collective voices will send a message to legislators that public education must be a top priority if we are to have a successful democracy.”

Ms. Schorno’s message also emphasized the value of every individual.  She stated to the crowd that success should not be measured solely by whether or not a student attends college, but rather the contributions they make in the future as a productive member of the workforce and provider of community service.  She also warned that after eight years of Chris Christie taking every opportunity to destroy our public schools, and although we have a strong advocate of public education in Governor Phil Murphy, we continue to face a threat at the federal level of government.  Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s appointee as Secretary of Education, continues to seek ways to “make public schools a profit stream for private corporations.”  This was yet another reminder of the importance of the “Power of the Polls” in November.

2018 Women's March NJ

Governor Murphy was in attendance at the march and reiterated his commitment to public education and equal pay during his remarks to the crowd.  The Governor recently signed an executive order demanding equal pay for women.  His wife, Tammy Murphy, then added her voice to the #MeToo movement by sharing with the crowd for the first time in public that she, too, was a victim of sexual assault when she was an undergraduate student at the University of Virginia.

Mrs. Murphy’s remarks were a poignant reminder of the many women who have fallen victim to sexual assault and harassment but who have only recently spoken out.  The Women’s March in NJ, as well as other marches taking place nationwide, are a reminder of the importance to vote for those who will honor, protect and appreciate the diversity of our population.  Legislators whose agendas continue to ignore or roll back the needs of women and the LGBTQIA community were put on notice:  we vote and we will be taking our “Power to the Polls” during the November midterm elections!

 

 

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