The essence of my fight for at least the past 12 years has been the illegal underfunding of our school district by the State of New Jersey. This isn’t a jab to the current governor Phil Murphy. He wasn’t here when it all began. I’m sure he knows about it.
Back then, former governor Chris Christie devised a way to mix up equality with equity. It worked. He was able to flat fund school districts, including Abbott districts like Paterson. Over time, we were faced with unprecedented financial challenges and shortfalls.
I was one of many throughout the state who made frequent trips to Trenton to speak up and fight for our city’s schools. Through the years, I continued to keep the community abreast as to what was happening in terms of funding.
I take issue with this current budget for many reasons but specifically because it does not represent a thorough and efficient education for our children. I don’t blame Ms. Shafer or her cabinet. She’s doing the best she can but politics seems to rule.
I know the downfalls we face are a direct result of the state’s illegal funding of the district. There is no denying that. But to be placed up against the wall for being illegally underfunded is flat out wrong.
When I first took office in 2012, I made a promise to the Paterson community that I would fight for them. After a brief few years, the Paterson community decided to bring me back. They didn’t bring me back to suddenly turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to the glaring inequities we face.
Not to mention the 14% tax increase. No matter which way you slice it, this isn’t the time to raise taxes on an already cash strapped community. Not even ONE RED CENT. We need to revisit the restructuring of the high schools. Why is it that teachers are always placed on the chopping block when budget time approaches?
In fighting on behalf of teachers I also fight on behalf of students. We entrust our children to the teachers daily. We should be concerned with making sure they have the right amount of support to carry out their duties on a daily basis.
I know, I make many unpopular decisions and I’ll continue to do so. I am here to be a voice for our children and as a result, our wonderful educators. I’m not here to join any club. I’m here to advocate for US.
Corey L. Teague
Corey L. Teague is a Commissioner on the Paterson Board of Education