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Rep. John Adler discusses plans to improve public education

NJEA tele-town hall attracts more than 1,300 educators and members of the public

U.S. Representative John Adler, D-N.J. (3rd CD), who believes that for too long Washington and Trenton have short-changed New Jersey’s students, wants to make sure that the state’s public schools are adequately funded and that public tax dollars are used wisely and to improve better public education.

Rep. Adler fielded questions from educators, community group members, and citizens concerned about public schools via the telephone last night during a tele-town hall. The call was sponsored by the New Jersey Education Association and the NEA and attracted 1,336 participants from Adler’s district.

Adler answered questions on a variety of subjects related to public education—including reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—which he wants to “get it right” by working closely with educators.

“I want to properly fund public schools,” said Adler. “The federal government should not impose unfunded mandates. I will work to ensure that South Jersey and the Shore area receive their fair share of federal funding.”

Several participants expressed concerns about merit pay, asking the congressman where he stood on this issue. Adler believes that teachers should get paid according to their seniority and skill level. He stated it’s not fair to pick and chose based on a random formula.

“I’m not a fan of merit pay,” said Adler. “It works in the private sector, but teaching is not the private sector and I’d be very worried about the arbitrariness of merit pay.”

On the issue of charters schools, the congressman said that the charter school movement has created a system that diverts resources and attention away from public schools. He also told those on the call he would make sure that public dollars are used to better public education and not to send students to private schools.

"As the father of four boys, I understand that strong schools are essential for a bright future,” Adler said. "I am grateful for the first-class public education that my wife and I received, and the equally impressive public education my sons are receiving.”

Adler also addressed questions concerning teacher recruitment and retention, improving student achievement, parental involvement, special education, and improving pay for educators.

“New Jerseyans care a great deal about the quality of our public schools,” said Barbara Keshishian, president of the New Jersey Education Association. “The tele-town hall was a great opportunity for NJEA members, parents, and community members to share concerns and experiences with Congressman Adler.”

Listen to the tele-town hall here.