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Dear Colleagues,

So now that I have your attention…the EWEA Executive Board would like to welcome you back…or welcome you…to the 2017 – 2018 school year!
There’s a lot more to say, but until then, enjoy the pictures from our “New Member Luncheon” and look around your webpage.
I have included some of my “aborted speech” from our first day back. Imagine the POLICE cramping my style? The nerve…

Welcome back! But before we look forward, let’s take a moment to reflect on where we have been.
There are many challenges we’ll ALL face this year and in the years to come. And know that we are not alone. As NJEA members we have over 200,000 colleagues in the state who share the same challenges and the same goals. And we are powerful.
We are powerful because we are UNITED.
We must always remain united and always remain prepared.
You know, NJEA is more than a building in Trenton or an organization of union staff working on our behalf. WE are NJEA. NJEA membership is not only an insurance policy. It is more like a gym membership – we are not going to get stronger and healthier unless we all show up and do the hard work it takes.
The victories we’ve won for our public schools and our profession didn’t happen in an office building or at a meeting. They didn’t happen because benevolent legislators wanted to thank us for a job well done. They happened because WE took action…Because we ORGANIZED.
We hit the streets when we had to….we lobbied legislators in their home districts….we emailed…we called…we wrote letters…we organized communities…
Organizing is not a complicated concept. Organizing is simply building relationships.
As professional educators, we know first-hand the necessity of cultivating an atmosphere of collaboration and teaching excellence for our students. We know first-hand the importance of giving children strong support during their school careers. We know first-hand that parents need to be our partners in the education of their children.
That’s why we need to share our knowledge, experiences, and expertise with legislators and decision makers. We also have to partner with parents and stand together as powerful advocates for children.
You don’t have to be an EWEA leader to lobby legislators or build coalitions. YOU are ADVOCATES, too! So share your stories and educate our community about the issues that matter to you as an educator.
We also need to make our voices heard in the voting booth. The decisions made in the Statehouse and White House shape our public schools. More than ever, we need to have the right people making those decisions!
We have to inform ourselves for the sake of our profession. Not one of us could do this alone, but we all have to do this together. EWEA PROMISES to keep you informed…to let you know when action must be taken. And action can simply be an email, letter, lobby day in Trenton, visit to the office of a legislator, or a phone call. You can choose your level of involvement…but be involved.
Together — me, you, all of us — we are going to return the dignity to our profession. And although I have enjoyed those beach memes, FINALLY electing a new governor will start that process. We’re going to fight for our students and fight for social justice.
Public policy governs our work and governs what happens in our schools. From pension funding to testing and evaluation, our public officials play an integral role in our profession.
Every new rule, every new test, can be traced back to a statute or regulation. And those statutes that inform those regulations are written by the very people we elect.
So, what do we do?
We do what we encourage our students to before they make decisions: we learn about our options. We investigate who people are, what they stand for and their commitment to New Jersey’s students.
Understanding the players, and understanding how we impact the political world around us, is not only our duty as citizens in our democracy, but, more importantly, it’s what we must engage in if we want to stand up for our students.
Your vote is your business. I believe that strongly. But I want you to know that to help us be INFORMED, and support candidates who support us, NJEA has a huge political action team who researched, interviewed and made recommendations in the gubernatorial elections and three State assembly races.
As you know, the most important politician in New Jersey is our governor, and this year we are going to work to insure THE public education candidate gets elected this November.
Ambassador Phil Murphy believes in funding our pension, legislative relief for chapter 78, ending PARCC testing in New Jersey, and, perhaps more importantly than all of those factors:
He values our work, he values us. Forget listening to us, he wants to include us in the conversation – every conversation that happens about our profession and our classrooms.

We need you. Our communities, schools and children need you and your commitment to improving our schools. So please, STAY INFORMED! STAY ACTIVE! Participate in our PRIDE/FAST community activities. Join me at the Hightstown Fair on October 7th. Come to the Mercer County Fall Focus on October 26th.
We want to get to know you! Talk with me, your Building Reps, the other officers, the teacher next door about your interests, your concerns, and key issues. We are here for YOU!
We are starting a new year. Some things we can EXPECT. Some things will come as a SURPRISE. But ONE thing we can ALL count on is our COLLECTIVE strength, wisdom, and dedication.
Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year. Here’s my promise to you…I PROMISE to be an email or phone call away.
And I promise TRY to make my emails to you shorter…I’ll try! Thank you, and have a GREAT year.
In solidarity,
Ellen Ogintz
EWEA President

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