PATERSON, NJ- Just over 24 hours after taking the oath of office New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has added a Paterson voice to his Administration.
Dr. Christopher Irving, a member of the Paterson Board of Education for nearly eight years, has been appointed as Assistant Commissioner of Education. His role, Irving told TAPinto Paterson, is still evolving but might include helping to oversee the state’s urban school districts. The full time nature of the role, and expansive responsibilities, necessitated him resigning from his elected position, a move he made official during an emotional address at the beginning of Wednesday’s meeting.
Appointed to Murphy’s transition team as co-chair of the Education, Access, and Opportunities Committee, Irving has become a respected voice in education policy. His decision earlier this year to not seek another term as President of the Board of Education led to speculation that Irving’s move was imminent.
Speaking at the Paterson Youth Council’s breakfast in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday Irving told the young people in the room to always be proud to be from Paterson, saying that it is “the most important part of his bio,” which also includes several educational and professional accomplishments.
Irving struck a similar tone as he addressed the audience Wednesday referring to himself as “a proud graduate of this school system, and just one small example of how our education system has the ability to impact and produce the future leaders of our city.”
Saying his time on the Board has been “the best eight years of (his) life,” Irving went on to thank the “talented teachers, administrators, central office, and staff” that he has worked with saying that their “love” for the children of Paterson is shown every day. Before concluding his comments Irving asked them all to “continue to fight the good fight of providing a quality education to our children because we are winning, and our collaborative success means success for our children.”
It’s this pride in Paterson, Commissioner Emmanuel Capers told TAPinto Paterson, that Irving “wears on his chest.” His success and accomplishments, Capers continued, came through “passion, dedication, time and commitment,” and provides a record that “shows our young people what they can accomplish.”
Saying that she has worked with Irving since his first term on the Board, Acting Superintendent Eileen Shafer welcomed the news saying that Irving has been “a fierce advocate for the children of Paterson and a strong supporter of our school system’s return to local control.” She added that as a graduate of Paterson schools Irving “serves as an extremely positive role model for our students.”
The appointment of Irving comes just weeks after Shafer announced that the district had surpassed the 80% threshold in each category on the latest state review, known as the Quality Single Accountability Continuum, or QSAC, and is now eligible for consideration to be given back full local control. Paterson had already regained partial control, but now will be able to regain decision making ability entirely, after going through a process which includes the passing of a resolution by the State Board of Education to formulate a transition plan with the district, with that plan requiring approval by the State Board.
Irving’s appointment as this transition progresses, Capers said, means that Paterson has an “ally” in a position that will “play a big role,” in making local control a reality.
John McEntee, President of the Paterson Education Association, also congratulated Irving offering the union’s hope that “his experience will allow the Commissioner of Education to focus more on urban school districts in the State of New Jersey.”