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NJEA Cancels Atlantic City Convention

After Sandy batters Atlantic City, the state teachers' union cancels its annual gathering there.

New Jersey’s teachers won’t gather in Atlantic City for their annual convention for the first time in 158 years.

The damage left behind by Sandy forced the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) to cancel its Nov. 8-9 conference at the shore town.

NJEA said its convention is the largest gathering of its kind worldwide, and the sheer size helped make the final decision to cancel.

“The NJEA Convention is a massive event, involving tens of thousands of people,” NJEA President Barbara Keshishian said. “We concluded it was simply not advisable to try to have that many people on the roads and using public transportation while so many communities are struggling to restore power and basic services to their residents – including NJEA members.”

NJEA’s convention is not only an annual event for teachers, but a two-day break from school for millions of New Jersey students. Sandy shut down the state’s schools for two days this week, and many other districts had to stayed closed for longer because of damage to schools and power outages.

Keshishian vowed that NJEA would return next year to Atlantic City, whose famed boardwalk took a pounding, along with massive flooding and power outages. Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City.

In the meantime, Keshishian said NJEA is exploring ways for its members, leaders and staff to contribute to and assist in the city’s cleanup and recovery.

NJEA wants “to assist in helping this historic city rebuild and recover. Accordingly, we have reached out to area officials to ascertain how we may be of the greatest assistance,” Keshishian said. “People in Atlantic City are hurting, and we genuinely want to help them in whatever ways we can.”

woresident November 03, 2012 at 01:51 AM
FYI, the contract does not say the teachers have off for the convention. Did you see that when you read the contract or are you just assuming that's how it works?
woresident November 03, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Thanks Nose Wayne for your input. Do you think All the teachers were somehow spared in this? Many lost homes, many without power, many are your neighbor in need and many ARE are volunteering. Many teachers were going to AC to attend workshops and seminars to learn new methods and ideas for the classroom. How dare you you suggest that somehow they weren't affected by the tragedy or aren't helping out. What are you doing?
Mom in West Orange November 03, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Thanks for this info. Do you know if all the bus routes will operate normally in West Orange on Monday? Unless they are able to make major progress in the next 2 days, it is very unlikely that buses can pass through much of the Upper Gregory/St. Cloud neighborhood. Much of Walker Road is completely blocked.
Annonymous November 03, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Hillsborough has decided to use Thursday and Friday to help make up the days that would otherwise be taken from other times of the year.
HarvardCrimson November 03, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Agreed. These statements are being made by ignorant people who only have time to blow their hot air instead of research facts. The power lies with the state to give and take away days as needed. The union has no approval power.
Joey Boots November 03, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Here;s an idea - how about having you convention (which less than 1 percent of teachers even attend) in the summer?
Done Withit November 03, 2012 at 02:57 PM
The state does not mandate the schools be closed. It is determined by the BOE and the teacher's union when they develop the calendar. Please don't believe for one second the BOE controls the calendar unilaterally. Teachers' contracts have in there specific days to be closed (NJEA convention, professional development days, etc.). But it is not state mandated. There are towns in South Jersey who will be open Nov. 8-9 because the teachers and BOE decided it was best for all. Having been through a natural disaster like this, if the schools are safe for the students to attend, they should go. It is important for children to get back to their routine whether they have school supplies or not.
Worried mother November 03, 2012 at 05:16 PM
If we had our power back in Wayne I would be happy to return to my home and send my children to school. We had to leave Thursday to stay with relatives in NY State. The issue is safety and keeping our children warm and fed. I can't get gas to return to Wayne. I appreciate that our superintendent wants to keep my children safe and warm in school but what happens after the schooldays ends?? Maybe he has a generator and gas he can spare to help the children he is so concerned about getting back to school, get back to their own homes and lives 1st!!
Teacher November 03, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Food supplies had to be thrown out...students will be given non perishable snacks and water...also some schools don't have heat AND not enough gas for buses to get students home from after school activities...
Teacher November 03, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Meow!
Teacher November 03, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Why have kids if you can't take a few extra days with them underfoot?
Teacher November 03, 2012 at 10:46 PM
We are going back to school in West Orange, since the convention was cancelled.
Teacher November 03, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Thank you, YouHaveNoIdea, but it seems you totally have the idea of who we are!
EB November 03, 2012 at 11:02 PM
The Board of Ed does set the calendar, but the teacher's convention is ALWAYS no school. The lost days must be made up. The BOE can take the days from anywhere in the calendar and the teachers have no choice, except for the Teacher's Convention. It would seem to be logical that if there is no convention that you would use these two days as part of the make up. However, the teachers would have to agree to use these two days.
woresident November 03, 2012 at 11:10 PM
EB. What are you talking about? You might want to get the facts from your union. You have wright to attend the convention but the district does not have to give the days off. Also, with the convention cancelled, your BOE can add the 2 days. The convention is NOT always no school.
NMknights November 04, 2012 at 04:46 PM
I too have been stressing about make up tests for my students and if the school would extend the 1st marking period. These are things in which I have no control over. I do not control the calendar nor set the days off. The board of ed determines the calendar and which days will be used for professional development etc. I just want to get back.
NMknights November 04, 2012 at 05:00 PM
:}0)
Kerri November 04, 2012 at 05:17 PM
FYI: Sunday at noon the Morris School District website said this. As of 9:00 today, Sunday, November 4, more than 30 roads throughout our community remain closed due to downed trees and power lines. Frelinghuysen, Hillcrest, Sussex, and Woodland, remain without power and Thomas Jefferson school has partial power and no heat. We will continue to monitor these conditions throughout the day.
Victoria Cavanagh November 04, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Dear Esther, Thank you for your positive thoughts about teachers. I have been teaching elementary school for 21 years and I LOVE what I do. I attend football, soccer, baseball games, etc. I go to communions and have been invited to birthday parties. I have attended funerals and have cooked meals for families in need in my class. I have purchased school supplies and clothes for families facing hard times. These are just a few of the things I do willingly and lovingly as a NJ school teacher. This doesn't even compare to the amount of time I spend planning lessons, correcting papers, contacting parents, volunteering at lunch time for reading clubs and crafts clubs. Meetings that I attend during lunch time and after a full day of work. On top of that, I go to Grad school at night and I am learning to be a wife and a stepmother in my free time. If you are a teacher or know a teacher, you know that this is what most of us do on a daily basis. We love what we do, but we ask that people not bash us or assume to know what we do as teachers. So if we have two days off once a year to gather with our peers to share ideas and learn new technology, please don't begrudge us that time. Oh, did I mention that we pay our own way to and from the convention including gas, tolls, breakfast, lunch, dinner and hotel. It cost me over $350 last year to attend the convention. Can we say the same for doctors, lawyers or corporate employees?
Marilyn Cahill November 04, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Heidi, of course most teachers go to it! Who do you think the thousands of people in AC are? Anyway, the people who said it has to go to the Board are correct. They set the calendar, and teachers and administrators can't just change it. I'm fine with going to to school those days. It makes sense to me (I'm a teacher AND local parent - same district). But there are families (of students) who have made trip reservations - plane tickets, hotels, etc. - based on the calendar which was issued in June. They should not be penalized in terms of attendance policy for missing school. They aren't really happy about making Thursday & Friday school days. Me, I don't have a problem which they do. It's my job, so of course I want to go to it. I just need July and August to work a summer job (no, we don't get paid in July and August, whether the school year gets extended or not).
Mitch Thomas November 05, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Oh Barbara, the State does not mandate that schools are closed those days. State law mandates that teachers who wish to attend the conference must be afforded the time to attend without penalty. The choice to close schools has been delegated to individual school boards. School boards must provide substitute teachers to fill the classes to allow for teachers who wish to attend the NJEA conference to do so. Historically, school boards were unable to staff the schools with enough substitutes. Therefore, most schools close for the 2 days of convention. There is no mandate to lift. Cancellation of the NJEA conference now eliminates the need to allow teachers the time off to attend. It is up to the discretion of each Board of Education to determine whether school will be in session. The legal dilemma will arise when grievances and unfair labor practice complaints are filed for changing the schedule on such short notice. Many teachers do not attend the conference. Many teachers choose to spend time with their families and children (who are given the time off from school) to plan family vacations. Great sums of money are spent to pay for such vacations in advance. Who will absorb this cost? How about the children who's parent's are teachers and were to spend a vacation with mom and dad? Logistically, this is a nightmare for all involved. The scheduled days off should remain for the benefit of the students, teachers, families and economy!
Mitch Thomas November 05, 2012 at 01:31 AM
The State does not mandate that schools are closed those days. State law mandates that teachers who wish to attend the conference must be afforded the time to attend without penalty. The choice to close schools has been delegated to individual school boards. School boards must provide substitute teachers to fill the classes to allow for teachers who wish to attend the NJEA conference to do so. Historically, school boards were unable to staff the schools with enough substitutes. Therefore, most schools close for the 2 days of convention. There is no mandate to lift. Cancellation of the NJEA conference now eliminates the need to allow teachers the time off to attend. It is up to the discretion of each Board of Education to determine whether school will be in session. The legal dilemma will arise when grievances and unfair labor practice complaints are filed for changing the schedule on such short notice. Many teachers do not attend the conference. Many teachers choose to spend time with their families and children (who are given the time off from school) to plan family vacations. Great sums of money are spent to pay for such vacations in advance. Who will absorb this cost? How about the children who's parent's are teachers and were to spend a vacation with mom and dad? Logistically, this is a nightmare for all involved. The scheduled days off should remain for the benefit of the students, teachers, families and economy!
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Deb November 05, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Isn't it time they move the NJ Teachers Convention to a more suitable time like July or August? Teachers have a more flexible schedule at that time of the year and it wouldn't take away from the school calendar.
MOCK November 05, 2012 at 01:44 PM
THIS IS NOT A BASHING OF TEACHERS...it is a bashing of the Union. It has been said that 10% ofteachers from our district go. It is just a long weekend for 90%. It should be in the summer, over a weekend, something that does not effect the school system/calendar. What other state has this?? None that I have heard of- the teachers we have are mostly great, but conventions should be on the off time...
Katherine November 05, 2012 at 09:32 PM
I can't believe people are using this crisis to complain. I, as many if my teacher friends, were hoping to go to school and have the convention cancelled before it was actually announced. I do not care about free stuff. I don't need a free pencil, ruler, highlighter, etc... Many of the people on these blogs use them to complain because they are unable to stand face to face with people. If you are unhappy with ANYTHING, do something about it. Do the rest of us a favor and STOP complaining. What is wrong with people?
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