An Open Letter from NJEA Member to NJEA Leaders

Dear NJEA leadership,

My name is Andre Halaw; I teach English at South Brunswick High School and for the past 17 years I have been a proud NJEA member. Until now. Alongside my fellow public educators, for the past eight years I have endured Chris Christie’s attacks on public education, patiently waiting for a change in state leadership and educational policy. I voted for Governor Murphy and was optimistic that he would address the gross budget inequities adopted by his predecessor; I was wrong.

Governor Murphy’s education budget proposal is just as crippling to underfunded districts as Governor Christie’s budgets were. Based on the same decade-old student enrollment data that Governor Christie used, Governor Murphy’s proposal continues to overaid those districts that have been enjoying the fruits of this gross budget inequity–sometimes receiving as much as 300% more than their current enrollment needs–while starving those districts that have endured a decade of fiscal attrition. My children attend one of those underfunded schools.

As a resident of Chesterfield, the most underfunded district in New Jersey, I am appalled by the NJEA’s glowing endorsement of Governor Murphy’s budget proposal. There is simply no logical reason why anyone would support a budget that provides districts with money for students who no longer attend their schools while actively denying other districts funding for students who actually attend their schools. The only explanation for NJEA’s endorsement is political.

I understand that protecting members’ employment is one of the highest priorities of any union, but the NJEA is putting the well-being of some of its members ahead of children, not to mention failing to represent the needs of NJEA members employed in underfunded districts. Simply stated: no proponent of equal and fair education would ever support the continued inequity in school funding inherent in the governor’s current budget proposal.

Before you dismiss this address as the ranting of yet another angry parent, ask yourself this: if your children attended Chesterfield Elementary school, would you continue to endorse Governor Murphy’s budget proposal? If you are truly honest, you know that your answer would be a resounding no.

I am ashamed that the association I have supported for the past 17 years applauds the continued theft of my children’s education, while simultaneously superfunding and overaiding other districts. The greatest lessons that educators can bestow are moral ones. In this respect, the NJEA has failed the children of New Jersey because its current endorsement essentially declares that some children matter more than others.

I implore you to make the right choice regarding the governor’s budget–and oppose it until all districts receive 100% funding according to their current needs. This is not a fiscal issue; it is an ethical one. My children–as do all children in New Jersey–deserve their equal share of school funding, which amounts to much more than the paltry 21% the governor has offered them.

Sincerely,

Andre Halaw

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