LETTER: Let’s stop playing the blame game and give Jersey City teachers a new contract

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In a letter to the editor, Jersey City resident and parent John Hanussak says let’s stop playing the blame game and find a way to give our teachers a new contract. 

John Hanussak

Dear Editor,

I would like to respond to a recent letter sent in by David Miranda.

First, I would like to address the narrow thought process in his reference to the the school scores he mentioned. One can easily take a short cut while reviewing these scores. I would prefer to dig deeper.

Could a school’s score correlate to the school’s teacher preparedness? Could a teacher be solely responsible for changing the scholastic course of a student? Perhaps.

But when we look at the teacher report cards also done by the state, we see that there is more to the story of each school than just the school ratings that most people start and end with.

For example, each of the high schools have upwards of 90% of their teachers classified as effective or better. So their teachers are effective and simultaneously teaching at failing schools? So which is correct? The answer to that lies in what goes on at home.

What is the parental engagement at home like? Are there any challenges there? Could they benefit from support programs? These challenges would be multiplied in a single parent household.

Also, research shows that there is a direct correlation between qualifying for free or reduced lunch and lower academic achievement. There are even studies showing that poverty effects brain development.

That information can be found here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/poverty-disturbs-children-s-brain-development-and-academic-performance/.

So, anyone seeking the truth would clearly see that a school’s scores are only part of the bigger picture.

As to any issues between the teachers, the board and the union, let’s face it, no group will ever be totally aligned with the other.

Personally, I see more involvement with board meetings because of the more direct and personal effect of the JCBOE’s actions. One is more likely to speak out (and quite likely become visibly emotional) when their child is impacted as opposed to going to a council meeting to complain about a dirty street.

Teachers are with our children Monday to Friday longer than we are as parents. With that, these teachers have a huge responsibility: shaping the future of our children and in turn the future of the world we live in today.

But even with the hours they put in, they can’t do it alone. Let’s stop the blame game. Let’s ensure that we provide teachers AND parents the support they need.

Let’s continue to work to provide programs for parents to help them be stronger partners in the success of their children.

And lastly, let’s come together to agree to a new teacher contract that allows teachers to have a renewed focus on their work in the classrooms and help them no longer worry about choosing to pay the PSEG bill or put food on the table.

Let’s get it done.

John Hanussak

Jersey City resident

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