Open letter from the Paterson Education Association to the Paterson community


An open letter to the Paterson community,

The Paterson Education Association (PEA) has made no secret of the mass exodus of staff here at Paterson. Although we believe we have clarified the reasons for its appearance, we are compelled to reiterate them following the missive sent to the parents by Superintendent Shafer at the end of last week.

As I said, there is a continuing and widespread shortage of teachers nationwide. In this regard, Paterson is no different. However, unlike other districts across the state and nation, the Paterson School District is not interested in developing a cohesive plan and working with the union to find solutions to attract and retain educators in order to alleviate the crisis. Unfortunately, the District seems more interested in trying to manipulate the truth – and demonize our members in the process – to avoid blame.

But this is not a disagreement between workers and management. It’s about how we can all work together to address this crisis, so Paterson students can have the best educational experience possible. The PEA is not interested in denigration; we believe the facts speak for themselves:

DO: Salary guides in negotiations are developed mutually. The PEA, especially its members, cannot unilaterally modify a salary guide or create one imposed on the District against its will.

DO: The district salary proposal for the next five years is and remains at zero percent. That’s right; the district offered no pay raises for its employees. This is why the PEA declared an impasse.

DO: The district acknowledged that its highest administrative salaries did not match those of surrounding and comparable districts. He has proposed — and the Board of Education is considering — to “adjust” those salaries, with increases ranging from $15,000 to $20,000.

DO: In addition to low salary offers, educators who left the District cited poor working conditions as a reason for leaving. For several years, the PEA has worked vigilantly to compel the district to resolve these outstanding issues.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: actions speak louder than words. If the District really wants to remedy the mass exodus of employees, it must stop pointing fingers and take responsibility for solving this crisis. We are not the problem… but are more than willing to be part of the solution.

We look forward to their call.

John McEntee, Jr., President

Paterson Education Association

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