NJEA and its family of 200,000 members mourn the passing of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a true friend of public education with a remarkable record of accomplishments for the citizens of New Jersey.
“Sen. Lautenberg was a true public servant, always looking after the interests of the people of our state and working to move us forward as a nation,” said NJEA President Barbara Keshishian. “His talents, his dedication, and his friendship will be sorely missed by our Association.”
Keshishian said that Lautenberg was “always accessible, always ready to listen, and always eager to engage in dialogue about the important issues.” She noted that the senator attended a number of NJEA statewide and county association events during his tenure, which began with his election to the Senate in 1982—his first public office—and continued throughout his five terms.
Lautenberg was an NJEA PAC-endorsed candidate in all of his elections to the U.S. Senate—in 1982, 1988, 1994, 2002, and 2008. He compiled a 98 percent voting record—an amazing 125 out of 128 votes—in support of NEA issues in the Senate.
“Sen. Lautenberg always saw public education as a top priority and he worked tirelessly to promote it,” Keshishian said. “He was a vigorous advocate over the entire academic spectrum, whether pushing legislation to improve Head Start, special education, or tuition assistance for college students.”
He also was a leader on a broad array of issues that range from protecting the environment and preventing gun violence to improving access to quality affordable health care.
“Sen. Lautenberg cared about people. He was born into humble circumstances and took advantage of the G.I Bill to pursue his own ‘American Dream,’ ultimately gaining great success in the business world,” said Keshishian. “In personal conversations and in remarks at NJEA events, he would express to us his desire to give back because this country had given so much opportunity to him and so enriched his life.”
“The entire NJEA family extends its condolences to Sen. Lautenberg’s wife, Bonnie, his six children, and his 13 grandchildren,” Keshishian said. “We want them to know that NJEA acknowledges the breadth of his accomplishments and appreciates his integrity as one of the visionary leaders of New Jersey.”