It was a change in tone: Acting New Jersey State Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf came to the teachers union convention Friday and told educators that he appreciated and valued them and wanted to listen to their concerns.
Cerf also praised the leadership of the New Jersey Education Association, telling the teachers twice that they were “well represented.”
“Let’s agree to put children first,” Cerf said near the end of his hour-long address that was attended by some 200 teachers and union officials. “Let’s find areas where we agree and work on them.”
Later Cerf added: “I really would love to engage the NJEA much more substantially.”
Afterward, a top NJEA official proclaimed that the union’s relationship with Cerf had improved.
It was a sharp contrast to the first two years of Gov. Chris Christie’s term, as the governor, his education leaders and NJEA leadership exchanged political broadsides over pension and benefit reforms and Christie’s proposed changes to teacher tenure and other education policies.