Over the course of the last year the city council and the mayor have worked tirelessly to improve our city in every possible way. Unfortunately, the ongoing situation between our teachers and the Jersey City Board of Education threatens to undermine all of our hard work and has the potential to hold this city back from reaching its true potential. It is clear, as seen in the last two Board of Education meetings, that the people are demanding more from the leadership of the Jersey City Board of Education.
The instructional staff of the Jersey City Public School system is entering into a second year without a contract. Over the course of these two years, our teachers have devoted more of their time and energy to their students and have shown that they are eager and willing to move our educational system forward. From their support of the Teach NJ Act to the union’s investment of personal time to volunteer and lead parental outreach projects, it is clear that our teachers are as committed as ever to the success of our educational system. Some of these efforts include co-sponsoring Thanksgiving food drives as well as literacy carnivals and showcase events at Liberty State Park that highlight the recent achievements in our schools.
Despite all this, the Jersey City Board of Education’s negotiating team appears to be stonewalling any efforts the teachers and staff have made to achieve a fair and equitable contract. The business administrator for the Board has personally boycotted negotiations on more than one occasion, a clear slap in the face to those who are working to resolve the issue. What is even worse is how this board has recently attempted to arbitrarily spend tax payer money on things that don’t directly benefit our children. This includes millions of dollars on a controversial private substitute teacher company, thousands of dollars a day on consultants, and proposing raises for several high ranking officials who earn over one hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year and who do not interact directly with our children.
The Jersey City Board of Education should first work to settle the contract of the teachers and those in the classroom because they are the backbone of the educational system. There is a clear outcry from our residents demanding that this board do better. It is my hope that they will work harder to make the negotiations team accountable in moving this process forward and achieving a fair and equitable contract for those who dedicate themselves to educating our children.
Councilman Daniel Rivera