Despite Pleas from State Board Members, Murphy’s Education Department Refuses To Resume In-Person MeetingsJanuary 31, 2023
Letter From Four Senators Express Concerns About One of Murphy’s State Board of Education NomineesFebruary 1, 2023
Ed. Note: The NJ Senate Judiciary Committee was supposed to vote today on Gov. Phil Murphy’s appointment to the State Board of Education, Mary Bennett, but declined to do so. In response, NJEA, the state teachers union, and NAACP released the statement below expressing their disappointment.
Earlier today the NJ Globe reported that the reason for the delay was “Bennett’s involvement in the New Jersey Coalition for Diverse and Inclusive Schools, an organization that is part of an ongoing school desegregation lawsuit..Bennett had not disclosed her connection to the organization on her Senate questionnaire; Committee Chair Brian Stack (D-Union City) pulled her nomination temporarily at the request of Republican senators after the affiliation was uncovered. When Bennett does appear before the Judiciary Committee, it’s likely she’ll face sharp questioning from Republicans over sex education and school desegregation – topics that are likely to play a major role in this year’s legislative elections.”
Currently all 13 members of the State Board, who were nominated by former Gov. Chris Christie, have expired terms. In September Murphy nominated Bennett, Kwanghee Jung, and Claudine Keenan to replace three current Board members who voted against the new sex standards. Both Jung’s and Keenan’s nomination are stalled through senatorial courtesy, a custom that nominees are only confirmed if there’s no objection from legislators in their home districts. Bennett didn’t have that complication.
Here’s the press release:
The NAACP and NJEA expressed disappointment that the Senate Judiciary Committee held the the nomination of Mary Bennett for New Jersey State Board of Education yesterday. Bennett, who was nominated on Sept. 29 and was scheduled finally to get a committee hearing today, is a highly qualified candidate who has been a steadfast voice for equity and opportunity for all students in New Jersey. Her expertise in urban education will be a much-needed addition to the State Board which has not seen a new appointment in over five years, resulting in most current members serving in holdover status.
“I fail to see any credible reason why Mary Bennett’s nomination was held today. She has been a voice for urban schools and the families they serve for decades,” said NAACP State President Richard Smith. “She understands the challenges faced by students and communities that are often overlooked and under resourced. She also understands the potential that our students can reach when given the opportunities they deserve. Ms. Bennett knows and takes seriously the constitutional obligations the state has to educate every New Jersey student. I urge the Judiciary Committee to move her nomination without further delay.”
“After five years without a single new appointment to the State Board of Education, NJEA was looking forward to Mary Bennett being the first new NJSBOE member confirmed since Governor Murphy took office,” said NJEA President Sean M. Spiller. “She is exactly who we need on the board right now. Her deep expertise, ranging from classroom teaching to school administration to mentoring and developing future educators is matched by her passion for serving all New Jersey students. We call on the Judiciary Committee to set another meeting right away to confirm both her and the other two nominees recently put forth by Governor Murphy. New Jersey students and families have waited too long for the new energy and fresh perspectives they will bring to a board that desperately needs both of those things.”