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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Launch of New Jersey Education Watch

Dear Friend,

Now that summer has ended and school is back in session, it is the perfect time to begin a serious discussion about how we need to improve the quality of education in our state. We know many of our public schools are among the best. Still, there is great inequality and far too many New Jersey school districts struggling every day, despite having some of the best teachers and the highest properties taxes in the county.

There needs to be a change and New Jersey Education Watch wants to be part of the solution. New Jersey Education Watch is a group of educators, parents and community leaders committed to improving education by focusing on what matters for students, not what matters for special interests.

Every teacher knows the hard work, dedication and commitment it takes to help students excel. It’s sometimes thankless, but the best teachers do it because they love their work, not because they are getting rich from it.

But some are in fact getting rich off the hard work of our teachers: the leadership of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) — and they are using teacher union dues – supported by taxpayer dollars to do it.

NJEA’s top brass, consisting of just 14 officials, received a combined $7.5 million in compensation — or about as much as 109 New Jersey public school teachers.

  • Between 2009 thru 2015, the only recent available information provided to the public, NJEA’s top brass received a combined total compensation of at least $29 million! SOURCE: NJEA CENTRAL ORGANIZATION 990 FILINGS FROM FISCAL YEARS 2009-2015
  • The union’s executive director, Ed Richardson, made at least $1.2 million in total compensation within a two year period between 2013 and 2014, more than eight (8) times as much as New Jersey’s Commissioner of Education. SOURCE: NJEA CENTRAL ORGANIZATION 990 FILINGS
  • The NJEA’s “Chief Lobbyist” in Trenton, Ginger Gold-Schnitzer, took home at least $800,000 over the same two year period. SOURCE: NJEA CENTRAL ORGANIZATION 990 FILINGS
  • NJEA’S President Marie Blistan pocketed at least $690,000 as well during those two years. SOURCE: NJEA CENTRAL ORGANIZATION 990 FILINGS
  • NJEA's Communications Director, Steve Wollmer, walked away with $780,000. SOURCE: NJEA CENTRAL ORGANIZATION 990 FILINGS
  • Even Vincent Giordano, who had already left his position as NJEA's Executive Director in 2013, received $241,212 the following year. SOURCE: NJEA CENTRAL ORGANIZATION 990 FILINGS

... and as if they weren’t paying themselves enough, some NJEA executives also get a clothing and travel allowance!

New Jersey teachers don't have to stand for this. A new Supreme Court ruling allows New Jersey teachers to keep their money and stop it from being wasted by NJEA’s leaders.

In the coming weeks, New Jersey Education Watch will continue to detail the facts regarding the NJEA leadership and what can be done to refocus our public debate to better support our teachers and do what’s right for all our students and families.