Sen. Barbara Buono and her running mate Milly Silva have made teachers and educational support professionals a priority. Their attendance at each of the three sessions of the NJEA Summer Leadership Conference demonstrated that commitment.
And what they had to say shows that teachers and educational support professionals will be treated with the respect that has been sorely lacking in the governor’s office for the past four years.
Buono praised the dedication that NJEA members show toward their profession and the students they serve, pointing out that members go above and beyond their basic duties.
“You take time away from your families, you are dedicated professionals,” she said. “Unfortunately, we have a governor who uses any opportunity he has to demean and denigrate this profession.”
Buono: "Silva is more than qualified"
Buono, who had recently named SEIU 1199 Vice President Milly Silva as her running mate, lambasted the governor for his characterization of Silva as “unqualified.”
“Milly Silva is more than qualified,” Buono said. “She has done more to lift up working men and women in this state than this governor could ever hope to.”
On the matter of “qualifications,” Buono compared candidate Christie in 2008 to Governor Christie in 2013.
“In 2008, Christie said that New Jersey had the highest unemployment in the region—higher than New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut,” Buono remembered. “In 2013, we still have the highest unemployment in the region. We have one of the lowest job growth rates—about half the national rate. Property taxes are up. The middle class has shrunk and poverty has increased.
“This is a governor who doesn’t keep his promises, she concluded. “New Jersey deserves more than a governor of empty promises and empty rhetoric.”
Silva: “The time has come”
In both of their remarks, Buono and Silva shared their personal stories highlighting not only their own efforts but the opportunities that were open to them through government programs.
“When you realize what a difference grants and loans and affordable tuition made in your life, standing on the sidelines and watching the next generation drown in debt isn’t an option,” Silva said. “Barbara doesn’t need anyone tell her education matters. Her life is proof enough.”
Silva said that in a Buono administration funding for education would be a priority.
“It’s time for a New Jersey where we fund our schools according to the School Funding Reform Act so that our classrooms have the textbooks and technology your students need,” Silva said. “It’s time for a New Jersey where every child has access to preschool and full-day kindergarten—programs we know have the potential to close the achievement gap.
“It’s time for a New Jersey where we value higher education,” Silva continued, “where the grants and loans and work study that made it possible for me to even think about college are available to every student who wants to pursue a degree.
“I truly believe that the time has come that every educator and every professional is given the respect and the dignity that they deserve for the work that they do.”