The NJEA Addresses Critical Topics in Education
Steve Adubato sits down with the New Jersey Education Association’s Executive Director, Ed Richardson, and President, Marie Blistan, to discuss the latest in education including: school funding, standardized tests, school consolidation, and public-employee health plans.
"Welcome to State of Affairs. I'm Steve Adubato. Coming to you from the Agnes Varis, NJTV studio in Newark. I'm going to introduce two very special guests, Ed Richardson, executive director of the New Jersey Education Association, and his colleague, Marie Blistan, President of the New Jersey Education Association. 200,000 members... Mm hmm. ...strong. Correct, Marie? Yes. That's absolutely correct. Not just teachers? No. Who else? We have teachers, child study teams, librarians, nurses, custodians, bus drivers cafeteria workers, maintenance... How long is this gonna go on? ...security personnel... It goes... ...secretaries... [laughter] ...for as long as it takes to answer that question. That's a lot. All of the essential people we need to run our public schools. Yes. Wow. It's absolutely true. And by the way, I always say this. When every educator... public school educator comes on... thank you. All of you. For everything you do for our children and other children everyday. Yeah. We we're talking about a whole range of substantive, important issues. And let me disclose, the NJEA, a major underwriter of the work that we do in public broadcasting. And as you know, a big supporter of public broadcasting. Mm hmm. I'm curious about this... as we do this program, and toward the latter end of September, there's just been a deal struck between the Governor Murphy Administration and public employee workers having to do with... help me on this if I'm wrong, renegotiating health and pension benefits... saving the state a significant amount of money? Set this up for us. So not pension benefits, but... Only health? Right. State provided health insurance. Our members are in a program called the School Employees Health Benefits program. Other public employees are in another state health benefits program, so this was on the school employee side. Hold on... Communication Workers of America... they have a different... They're in the state... ...state health... ...Employees Health Benefits... Got it. ...Program. Okay? There are design committees of both of those programs. And those design committees have equal representation from unions and from the administration. That design committee for the school employees program got together just yesterday and agreed to changes that will, in total, save the state about four hundred and seventy million dollars over two years. How does it save it? Explain it. Basically, there were a whole variety of changes that were put in place to really improve the way that care is delivered without diminishing the level of care. The big one is on the retiree side, I will say, having to do with the post retirement medical benefits for Medicare eligible retirees. The state bid and got a very attractive bid from Aetna for a program that..."