MADISON, NJ - The Madison Education Community has been named the recipient of the 2013 Community Friend of Education Award by the Morris County Council of Education Associations (MCCEA).

The Council recognizes Morris County leaders, districts and notable contributors to education every year for their efforts to improve public education.

“The Madison Education Community has exemplified the partnership of the superintendent, board of education and local association president in meeting the challenges of today’s educational mandates," said
MCCEA President Christine Hammerschmidt. "They were able to meet with Commissioner (Christopher) Cerf and voice the concerns that many local districts have regarding the implementation of state education mandates. It is a commendable and appropriate effort on their part.”

The Madison Education Community, represented by Board of Education President Lisa Ellis, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael A. Rossi and Madison Education Association President Robert I. Grundfest was cited as the leader in the effort to get the State Department of Education to take a closer look at its practices regarding the new teacher evaluation system, the coming changes in standardized testing and the Common Core
Curriculum Standards.

The MCCEA recognized that cooperation between the board, administration and teachers was the key to the success of Madison’s effort, and led to a unified message that the state could not ignore.

“Madison has a long and valuable tradition of working cooperatively," Rossi said. "There is a sense of a shared vision among all stakeholders. Accordingly, as New Jersey moves into this new era, we want to ensure that the many and varied positive aspects of our school system not only are protected but fostered. Change must
first be meaningful, and then measurable and manageable. We will continue to fight for our students and provide the best academic and extracurricular experiences for them."

Grundfest added, “Between the new evaluation system and changes to the tenure laws, we are entering a new era in public education in New Jersey, and we need to make sure that Madison is ready to address these challenges. That’s why it’s key for the school board, administration and teachers to work together to ensure that all students continue to receive a world class education.”

The three Madison leaders met with State Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf and his staff in late January because of a letter that Rossi wrote to Cerf, and which he read in person to the State Board of Education, concerning the new changes. The letter was issued with the input and support of both Ellis, representing the board of education, and Grundfest, the head of the Madison teachers association. It gained national exposure when it was picked up by the Washington Post and Internet blogs by renowned educational reformers Diane Ravitch, Robert Ferrell and Susan Ohanian, and, the national center for fair and open testing.

The Madison team was also able to mobilize other educators around the state to ask for clarification about the new evaluation system, which must be implemented by all districts in September.

MCCEA’s Hammerschmidt also noted that these are the positive things that can happen when all district leaders get together for a common goal.

The event honoring the recipients will be held Wednesday March 20 at 6 p.m. at Meadow Wood Manor, Route 10 E in Randolph.