Leaked NJ DOE Email: “I’ve Been Forced Into Early Retirement by Assistant Commissioner Linda Eno.”

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[Update: Yesterday Asst. Comm. Eno announced to staff that she is leaving the Department of Education in June.]

This is an email sent Friday by a 20-year staff member of the New Jersey Department of Education who must take an early retirement due to unreasonable strictures imposed by Assistant Commissioner Linda Eno. This employee works on Whole School Reform in one of the state’s four Learning Resource Centers which provide free or low-cost onsite support to low-performing districts, including targeted professional development for teachers and technological expertise. I’ve been told that at least one of the four Centers may be eliminated, although no one has informed the districts that depend on that support.

All names in the email (with the exception of Eno) have been redacted.

Dear Colleagues,

Today, Friday, February 28, is my last day working for the department.  It’s a bittersweet departure….

Bitter because I lack the 25 years of service which I had hoped to complete.  I’ve been forced into retiring early due to health issues brought on by Linda Eno’s anachronistic and rigid edict disallowing remote work locations, resulting in a daily punishing 4 hour roundtrip commute since November 2018.  I was, of course, unable to make the trip 5 days a week and have exhausted leave of all kinds and had to take a part-time job up north to boost my income. 

Linda denied my ADA Accommodation Request as well as other attempts to come to some reasonable resolution.   Several of you have been impacted by her mandate and overall management style which seems to favor control over common sense, policies over productivity, and moving cubicles over moving our mission forward with clear objectives, written in English, with truly measurable objectives.

Those of us hired in the Abbott Division’s Northern Office 20 years ago were reassigned to Trenton offices after a decade or so, and have always collaborated well with supervisors to arrange ways of continuing our team work, spending 2 or 3 days a week in DOE-related northern offices with trips to Trenton when necessary for face to face meetings.  Speaking of Abbott…

This is also a sweet day as I think back over my 20-year NJDOE career and the opportunities to learn and work alongside YOU – my work family of so many energetic, smart, creative, kind, insightful, funny, clever, compassionate and warm people here and in DOE offices throughout the state.  While leadership comes and goes, you stay the course and make us look good doing it, be it NJDOE 0.0, 1.0 or 2.0.

Now, before I hit the SEND button and head north, here’s what I would drop into a Suggestion Box for Senior Leadership…

  1. Set up a Suggestion Box in the lobby of each floor at 100 and 200 Riverview [location of the DOE offices] and be brave enough to open the boxes once a week to see what amazing and solid ideas might come from those who are not invited to inner circle meetings, then see about enlarging the department vision to include them;
  2. Do what is necessary to help all those who work in HR to communicate with employees in timely, clear, correct and appropriate terms.  Communication, with exceptions being [three names redacted] is too often delayed, incorrect, a misrepresentation of policies, twist of facts, or just a blatant abuse of power; 
  3. Start an Office of Education Research to provide a solid foundation and rationale for what we do—a central clearinghouse of teaching and learning research being done in districts or on higher ed campuses, as well as a place to make requests for same.  Invite students to be part of the work and encourage careers in this vital area.  Hold an annual summit to showcase findings in content areas (i.e., science of reading) and pedagogy, as well as connect to national and international developments in teaching and learning; 
  4. Rather than reducing or deleting them, promote Learning Resource Centers as our best link to the local community in north, central and southern NJ. They are warehouses of resources, tools for creative visual aids and spaces for people to gather (without parking nightmares) freely to pursue learning and study. Put NJDOE staff in those spaces and give regional areas better access to our expertise and skills as Trenton is not the center of the education universe; 
  5. Foster a department wide endeavor to remind one another that we are all part of the SAME RACE:  the HUMAN race. Eliminate the misleading words in our important calls for equity and along with the need to understand and widen our cultural lens, emphasize the commonalities we all share as humans, despite our differences in skin color, facial features, language, economic status, brain capacity, perceptions, etc.:  Resource: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/race-is-a-social-construct-scientists-argue/
  6. Invite NJ school librarians into every NJDOE initiative and project as they come with unique skills, talents and mindsets about teaching and learning due to their roles within schools.  They also collaborate continuously with their municipal and academic colleagues to support students from pre-k through graduate school.

Pardon all errors and misspellings…

Thank you and take care.

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