On Tuesday, October 19, NJPSA Executive Director Karen Bingert and Director of Government Relations Director Debra Bradley testified before the Joint Committee on the Public Schools, a bicameral committee devoted to examining issues surrounding public education in New Jersey. The topic was the return to in person learning this fall, the successes, challenges and areas where the State Legislature could assist educators in our work.
Bingert applauded the work of NJPSA members and all school staff for their tireless work during the ongoing pandemic and emphasized the joy of students returning to school in person, the targeted interventions and services districts are providing to address their social and emotional needs and the positive work that is taking place to assess and address student learning.
In the area of challenges, Bingert spoke of the never-ending management of COVID-19 by school nurses, and administrators and its negative impact on the work of the school. She cited the serious and systemic staffing crisis, not only in teaching, but in other school functions such as transportation, cafeteria services and professional services. Stating, “tensions are high and tolerance is low,” Bingert discussed the volatile school environments our members are operating in and called for legislative leadership and support.
Bradley discussed NJPSA’s specific recommendations to the committee which included passage of specific legislation (S-3685/A-5576) that would allow retired teachers to return to work without risking their hard-earned pensions. Other recommendations include the repeal of the New Jersey First Act, R.S. 52:14-7 which requires public employees to be residents of New Jersey, recommended legislation to delay the NJQSAC process for another year, the creation of incentives like the Governors Teaching Scholars Program to attract our youth into the education profession and assistance to broaden contract tracing responsibility away from the school setting to allow us to focus on critical student needs.
To reach the NJPSA testimony, click here.