Schools continue to excel, but threats loom

The latest U.S. News and World Report state rankings are out, and New Jersey once again has some of the best public schools in the nation, with a #2 ranking for education. NJEA President Marie Blistan congratulated NJEA members for once again elevating our public schools to national prominence. “The quality of our schools is directly connected to the passion, dedication and excellence of the NJEA members who work in them,” said Blistan. “Despite the challenges we face, we provide our students with a world-class education. But as proud as I am, I know that school employees and our public schools are threatened by the attacks on our profession. We need our leaders to stand up for schools by standing up for the people who work in them.”

NJEA Vice-President Sean M. Spiller echoed Blistan’s concerns. “We are so proud of what we have built together in New Jersey.  That’s why we are fighting so hard to protect our profession from the financial attacks that threaten our incredible success,” said Spiller. “When educators bring home less pay year after year because of skyrocketing health care costs, and when our pensions and health benefits are threatened, it’s difficult to attract new people to our profession. Even worse, it’s becoming nearly impossible for some educators to stay, as they find they cannot take care of their own families even as they work so hard to support New Jersey’s students.”

NJEA Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty noted that the state needs to achieve tax fairness so it can continue to fund public education and honor the people who make our public schools so strong. “New Jersey needs a millionaires tax, so that the people who benefit the most from our state’s economy do their fair share to keep it strong for working families,” noted Beatty. “We need a millionaires tax to ensure that we have the revenues necessary to fully fund our public schools, treat educators with respect and build a stronger, fairer economy that lifts up all New Jersey residents. If we want to maintain and improve the high ranking our schools have achieved, we need tax fairness now.”

New Jersey’s public schools have long been among the very best in the nation. That success is threatened by a legacy of underfunding that the state is just beginning to address under Gov. Murphy’s leadership, as well as by attacks on the economic security of school employees, including the massive health care costs imposed since 2011 and newly proposed cuts to pension and health care benefits that would push many public school employees beyond the breaking point.

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