East Windsor Education Association

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President’s Message

Dear Colleagues,

Here we go…

Welcome back to YOUR East Windsor Education Association webpage! There’s lots to see and learn from here. This is different than our Facebook page, so you’ve got to have both :)

Please click around and check out the names and contact info of our leaders, the committees we are involved in, the articles, the pictures…I guess everything!

There is a link to your contract, our Constitution, negotiations updates and more. You need to log in for these. Your log in is the email address on file with NJEA (which SHOULD be your HOME email address) and EITHER the last 4 numbers of your social security number OR the number on your NJEA membership card.

I’d like to welcome all of our new school employees. Check out the pictures from the new member luncheon. We are thrilled to have you as part of our Association family. Please know that we are here to help you and to support you. We have a lot of talented veteran educators in our school district, so don’t ever be afraid to reach out for help.

We have added a NEW section that will offer weekly suggestions for those new to the profession…or for those (like ME) who need “refresher courses”. These are great tips and worth the time to read.

Welcome to all of our veteran members. I hope you had a relaxing summer, because it’s going to be a busy year!

I don’t have to tell you that these are VERY difficult times for public education, and for those of us who chose to work in public schools.

We came to that choice, by and large, because we truly CARE about children and their futures.

But every day brings another news story about our so-called “failing” public schools … or the evils of tenure … or why unions are bad for public education.

Obviously, something is going on here.

There’s an old joke that goes like this: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you!”

What we’re seeing in New Jersey – and across America – isn’t a joke.

Because, when you think back on the past several years, starting with the arrival of our governor in 2009, we have been under CONSTANT attack … subjected to CONSTANT criticism … and CONSTANTLY put on the defensive by politicians, pundits, and people with an agenda.

Welcome to the age of Corporate Education Reform in America.

It’s an age in which wealthy, influential people, backed by hand-picked politicians and ideological think tanks, have a one-word answer for how our work should be judged. And you can probably guess what that word is…

That word is TESTING.

Now, we ALL support high standards, and New Jersey has a long history of supporting curriculum standards and appropriate accountability. We didn’t get to be number 1 by resting on our laurels.

But these reformers want to use standardized test scores to pigeon-hole our students, and we all know that a child is more than a test score.

They want to use test scores to judge how good a job they think we are doing, and evaluate us BASED on those scores.

They want to use test scores to decide how much to pay us – or even whether to pay us at ALL.

This entire testing obsession would be hard enough to swallow if it were just the work of uninformed people, who don’t know what they are doing.

But the people BEHIND this movement know EXACTLY what they are doing, and that’s why we must FIGHT BACK.

There is a national movement – and it’s growing by leaps and bounds – to PRIVATIZE public education.

Billionaires and Wall Street players see the $650 BILLION that is spent on public education in America as a BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY.

So they attack US, because we are in their WAY.

But we’re NOT getting out of their way.

We’re standing UP to them, and with 200,000 colleagues in New Jersey, and 3 MILLION MORE across the country, we’re pushing BACK.

This fight may have started in our urban districts, but it’s now headed to EVERY district, so EVERY NJEA MEMBER needs to join this fight.

We aren’t ALONE.

Already, there are encouraging signs.

Communities are organizing, and now, PARENTS across New Jersey are speaking out, because they know that the testing explosion is not good for their children.

So, the wheels of change are TURNING, and we’ve already seen what we can do when we work together.

Just look at the last year:

We joined forces to ensure the election of a PRO-public education Legislature, and we did that TOGETHER.

We joined forces to send TENS of THOUSANDS of letters – and a STRONG message – to the pension boards, urging them to hire outside counsel after the governor broke the law by refusing to fund our pensions.

And EVERY PENSION BOARD – TPAF, PERS, and Police and Fire – did just that.

And when we saw that the entire evaluation/Common Core/PARCC testing train was running off the tracks, we sent thousands of letters to the state Department of Education this past spring.  Many of us testified. I testified!

And what happened?  They LISTENED to us.

As a result, the impact of testing on teacher evaluation has been reduced dramatically this year, and we will KEEP the pressure on policymakers and administrators to get it RIGHT – or get rid of test-based evaluation altogether.

That’s what we can do when we work TOGETHER.

We have a choice every day.  We can sit back and LAMENT our situation.

Or we can RISE UP, ORGANIZE, and DO SOMETHING about it.

THIS is why having a strong association is SO important.

The association offers us a wonderful array of programs and services, but we get our TRUE STRENGTH from our MEMBERS.

Working TOGETHER, we can protect our RIGHTS …… negotiate our CONTRACT …… and make sure we are all treated FAIRLY and PROFESSIONALLY.

We must stay INFORMED on the issues that impact our profession because our students, our colleagues, and our families are depending on us at this historic moment in the history of public education.

Yes, we will continue to become the very BEST at the work we DO.

We already have.

Just last month, a leading financial advisory website ranked New Jersey’s public schools NUMBER ONE IN THE NATION.

So remember THAT, the next time someone talks about New Jersey’s “failing public schools.”

This year, the new evaluation system kicks in, and NJEA members MUST stay on top of it.

As I mentioned, NJEA and its members SUCCEEDED in pushing back against test-based teacher evaluation – and this year, for teachers in tested subjects, those test scores will no longer count for 30 percent of their evaluation.

They’ll count for only 10 PERCENT.

But we have to monitor these new regulations as they are carried out in our schools.

We ALL have concerns about SGOs – which were used for the first time last year.

Good teachers – like those who work in this school district – have always established goals for their students. So in that respect, SGOs are nothing new.

It is very important that we work collaboratively with our principals to set SGOs that challenge our students but are realistic in scope.  If you have any questions or concerns, please share them with your Building Reps and we will get you the help you need.

In the end, most of the challenges we face are because of politicians. But we can impact their thinking. BE READY when we ask you to write, call or visit with one of our legislators or the State BOE.

Our NJEA membership also makes us part of the most powerful education association in the country AND the most powerful union in the state. We are powerful because we are UNITED.

So, as we start a new year, please stay INFORMED and STAY ACTIVE, because our strength is in our NUMBERS.

And in this environment, our NUMBERS are our BEST chance to push back against the corporate reformers and to save public education for future generations.

Let’s all have a great year!

[NOTE: the website referenced in this speech regarding NJ being #1 in the nation is WalletHub.com, and the link to the survey is: http://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-best-schools/5335/]

With pride…

Ellen Ogintz

President

EWEA

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 To access the entire EWEA website, including confidential materials such as our Contract, Constitution, and Building Rep phone numbers, you will need to Log In using your HOME email address and the last four digits in your Social Security number.  You can enter this information in the boxes to the right.

 

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