By Marlene Cooper, NJEA Preservice member

Ambassador Phil Murphy was endorsed by the NJEA PAC as the Democratic candidate for the gubernatorial primary and again for the general election. He shares the values and priorities of NJEA and its members and he has committed to working with NJEA. He is the product of a public education and the brother of a retired Boston public school teacher. He understands the value of the public education system.

He has a strong commitment to higher education.

Ambassador Murphy will fight for:

• Increased state funding to public colleges and universities.

• Lowered tuition costs and fees.

• Increased vocational and technical training programs.

• Loan forgiveness for STEM grads working in STEM jobs.

• Student loan relief from private-sector employers as an employee benefit.

These proposals would represent a large step in stabilizing the finances of all our colleges by making them affordable to New Jersey students and their families. This would make New Jersey colleges more affordable for our preservice members.

Under the current administration, the public colleges and universities in New Jersey have been severely underfunded. Because of this, NJEA preservice members and other New Jersey college students are facing some of the highest college costs in the country. Ambassador Murphy is committed to better funding for New Jersey’s colleges and universities to relieve the financial burden that many of preservice members face.

Ambassador Murphy will also advocate for the creation of incentives for private sector employers to provide student loan relief as a core employee benefit. He will fight for state-based refinancing of student loan debt at lower rates to help those struggling with high interest loans.

Ambassador Murphy supports full funding of the pension system and supports a constitutional amendment requiring the state to make quarterly payments into the pension fund.

Ambassador Murphy and his running mate Sheila Oliver believe that health care benefits should be a part of the collective bargaining process, recognizing the problems that many of NJEA members have faced because of Chapter 78.

In addition, Ambassador Murphy supports ending the PARCC exams and eliminating the exit test graduation requirement. He has been a vocal opponent of the PAARC exam and is against high stakes standardized testing of students.

We must get back to the simple premise of letting teachers use classroom time to teach to their students’ needs, and not to a test,” Ambassador Murphy has told members.

The Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, Sheila Oliver, also has a strong stance in supporting educators. Not only is she an advocate for all of Murphy’s positions, such as PARCC testing and pension funding, but she has also been a staunch supporter of equal pay for women and family leave.

Ambassador Murphy will be great advocate for teachers, educational support professionals, students and their families. He is committed to make education his top priority and to continue to work with NJEA. To quote Ambassador Murphy, “It means a lot to me to be on the same team as NJEA.”  

Marlene Cooper is an NJEA Preservice member currently attending Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

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