Peter Drucker once said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” The Berkeley Heights Board of Education (BH BOE) has excellent management skills, and so does the Berkeley Heights Education Association (BHEA). The BH BOE can make budgetary decisions, choices about implementing new technology, and execute and plan new developments in our school system. The BHEA has competent, caring teachers that, coupled with motivated students, have allowed our school system to have the reputation that it currently possesses. 

So, why has a new contract for our teachers deteriorated into such a complicated, drawn-out issue? The BH BOE and the BHEA both lack the proper leadership – Peter Drucker would say they are unable to do the right thing.

More than a year has passed since the expiration of our teachers’ contracts on June 30th, 2018. That year passed with the same need for better leadership, on both sides. Our education system has been subject to a whole year of not doing the right thing. The BH BOE spent the year improperly addressing the concerns of the BHEA. The BHEA wasted the year by not coming to the negotiation table with an open, flexible mind. The Berkeley Heights education system now has distraught students, confused parents, an unresponsive BOE, and very, very tired teachers. 

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Is this any example to provide the students? As a former student, seeing this unfortunate situation is truly saddening. 

I urge both sides to put the previous school year behind us. More importantly, I urge both sides to come to the negotiating table in September with changed, open-minded leaders. The BHEA can easily find new representatives, and residents of Berkeley Heights can run for a position on the BH BOE in the upcoming election.

New leaders are needed, on both sides, that can bring new perspectives and ideas. New leaders are needed, on both sides, that can do the right thing. To come together as the united Berkeley Heights education system that we once were, to remember that this is affecting our students’ futures, to realize that we must respect both veteran and new teachers, and to finally settle the amount of compensation that will be distributed on the salary guide. Who’s going to step up?