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This is a broadcast from the Paterson Education Association.
On behalf of the 2,800 Paterson Education Association employees, we hope your son/daughter’s return to school will be a special day. On your way to school, you may notice thousands of P.E.A. members protesting outside at all schools and worksites before the first bell rings. Do not be alarmed; our wonderful employees will be inside their respective schools before the day begins. Nothing about the school day will change. However, I’d like to explain why the Union is choosing to demonstrate before school.
First, it is no secret that the Paterson School District has lost more than 1,300 employees in three years. In almost all cases, each of these employees reports to the P.E.A. that they are leaving due to the lack of respect shown by the District. More than that, however, many have reached a boiling point with constant unsanitary working conditions, herculean job responsibilities, a lack of student support services, and overflowing class sizes. To make the situation even more problematic, many Paterson Public School employees struggle to financially provide for their families. Why, you might ask? For almost one year, the Union representing all Paterson Education Association members has been attempting to negotiate with the Superintendent and the Board fair salary wages for all of its members. The Union’s plan to increase wages by a considerable percentage will help attract outstanding educators for your students. It will also help prevent the mass departure of experienced, highly trained employees leaving Paterson. The District’s plan calls for 0% for the next five (5) years. For some reason, however, the Board of education refuses to place a contract on the top of its agenda. Rather, they spent the better part of the last year struggling to understand the negotiations process, increasing already bloated top administrative salaries (that do not work with students), and playing politics. Many of the same reasons the State of NJ took over the District more than 30 years ago.
Like it or not, the Paterson Board of Education must acknowledge that the staffing crisis is indeed, a crisis. In the coming days, we plan to outline many other issues that impact our students and staff. However, in the meantime, on the first day of school, ask yourselves, are the vacancies below impacting your son/daughter? Are you willing to demand the board hold in-person meetings to address your child’s education? Do your children not deserve an educator on the 1st day of school? Should they be with constant rotating per diem substitutes? Until we can retain our educators and pay them a fair wage, this crisis will only worsen.
We, the P.E.A., believe that your students and our employees are worth more than this. That is why we stand in solidarity to demand that the Paterson School District work with all parents, Union officials, and others improve this situation. We hope that we can count on your support! Below is a glimpse of the information that we have from our members (as of Tuesday, September 6, 2022.) These numbers will increase gradually because many employees are mandated to wait 60 days after resigning. That means many of your children may start with a teacher but will be left with a sub until a replacement can be hired. Those numbers are not reflected below.