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PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE - September 2017

Welcome back to OCVTS, and the start of another great year! I want to share some thoughts as we begin a new year together.

I'd like to start by telling you to get to know your Association officers. We are proud to represent you and look forward to a successful school year.

I'd like to welcome all of our new school employees. We are thrilled to have you as part of our Association family. Know that we are here to help you and support you. We have a lot of talented veteran educators in our school district so don't ever be afraid to reach out for help.

Additionally, I want to welcome back all of our veteran Association members, It's so great to see you ready for another year. I hope you had a relaxing summer and are energized for a great year to come.

But before we look forward, let's take a moment to reflect on where we have been.

There are many challenges we'll ALL face this year and in the years to come. And know that we are not alone. As NJEA members we have over 200,000 colleagues in the state who share the same challenges and the same goals.

Our NJEA membership also makes us part of the most powerful education association in the country AND the most powerful union in the state.

We are powerful because we are UNITED.

We must always remain united and always remain prepared.

As professional educators, we know first-hand the need to cultivate an atmosphere of collaboration and teaching excellence for our students. We know first-hand the importance of giving children strong support during their school careers. We know first-hand that parents need to be our partners in the education of their children.

That's why we need to share our knowledge, experiences, and expertise with legislators and decision makers. We also have to partner with parents and stand together as powerful advocates for children.

We must make our voices heard in the voting booth. The decisions made in the Statehouse and White House shape our public schools. We want to have the right people making those decisions!

That is why we must engage in politics. We have to inform ourselves for the sake of our profession. Not one of us could do this alone, but we all can and will do this together.

It's time to win passage of the anti-privatization bills that will protect the jobs of educational support professionals.

It is time to elect leaders who will fund our schools fairly and equitably and keep the state's promise to fund our pensions.

And it is time to elect leaders who will work with us to get real relief from the devastation of Ch. 78.

To help us support candidates who support us, NJEA has made recommendations in the gubernatorial elections and three State assembly races.

As you know, the most important politician in New Jersey is our governor, and this year we are going to work to insure THE public education candidate gets elected this November.

Ambassador Phil Murphy believes in funding our pension, legislative relief for chapter 78, ending PARCC testing in New Jersey, and, perhaps more importantly than all of those factors:

He values our work, he values us. Not only will he listen, he vows to include us in every conversation about our profession and our classrooms.

NJEA needs you. OCVTEA needs you. Our communities, schools and children need you and your commitment to improving our schools.

You must never forget that everything that governs our classrooms and hallways, our bus rides and cafeterias, is in our control. It's our duty to be active participants in the conversation. Your participation starts today.


I urge you to read your NJEA Review, visit njea.org to learn more about the candidates and OCVTEA.org to learn about your Association and events. In fact, you can sign up for NJEA mobile – you can do it through njea.org or text UNITY to 738674. You will get text messages on breaking news. You will only receive a text when an important issue needs to be shared.

We have to take control of the dialogue about our schools, our communities, and our union. So get to know your Association BUILDING REP, and talk with him or her about your interests, your concerns, and key issues. STAY ACTIVE AND GET INVOLVED!

Today, we start a new year. Some things we can EXPECT. Some things will come as a SURPRISE. But ONE thing we can ALL count on is our COLLECTIVE strength, wisdom, and dedication.

Lastly, I ask you to support our colleagues in Texas and all the families that were devastated by Harvey; you will be hearing from me soon on a plan to contribute to the relief efforts.

Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year. Thank you, and have a GREAT year.

Howard Polenberg, President - OCVTEA - May, 2017

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE - September 2016

Fellow OCVTEA members;

I hope that you had a great summer and you're ready to get back to work. When I say, "get back to work," I don't just mean what we all do when we're employed by the Ocean County Vocational Technical School District.

No, I also mean, "Are we ready to get back to the work of strengthening our association and empowering our members?"

This work is going to take some effort though, and I need every one of you to pitch in and be a part of our progress. Here is an overview of our action plan developed by your Association Executive Committee:

Get Involved – Think of belonging to our association like a gym membership: you only see results when you show up and get to work. We need you on our committees, at school board meetings, writing post cards to legislators, and many other things that will not demand much of your time but make a big difference in how effective we are.

Browse to the Officers and Reps page for phone numbers and email addresses.

Let's get to work and have a great year together! Thank you.

Howard Polenberg, President - OCVTEA - September, 2016


Fellow OCVTEA members;

As we come to the close of another school year, let's reflect back on all of our accomplishments as an Association and the work we do with our students.

We successfully train our students to be the best they can be. This is evident by the medals they win in various competitions that we teachers participate in, and the accolades our school district receives based on performance. You are all doing a wonderful job.

Contract negotiations are proceeding. Your negotiation team has had several meetings with the Board of Education and their lawyer. I am proud to report that the negotiations thus far are moving in a positive direction; we are working on contract language, salary guides, stipends, health care and increases in your salary. Details will be available in the future before ratification is on the table.

Your negotiation team consists of Andy Dennison – Negotiation Chair, Tiffany Seeley, Eileen Verde, Sharon Clougher, John Sweeney, William Hegerich and me; along with our NJEA UniServ representative Mike Fletcher – who has now advised your Association for the second contract in a row.

Many issues that affect your careers as educators and educational support staff are still in the fore front of the news, i.e. your "contributions" to health benefits as specified by law and the lack of state contributions. Remember to vote in the upcoming election for education and union-friendly candidates.

I attended an Ocean County NJEA Presidents dinner on the night of May 19th to help plan county activities and to bring back some information on committees we can be a part of. The "Membership Engagement Team" is one that I would like to have at OCVTEA. This involves talking with fellow Association members and neighbors about the value of education in our community, identifying concerns of the membership, identifying members that are willing to take action, and working as a team to put plans into effect. You will receive training and support from the NJEA. I'll keep you posted on dates for the training. Your Association and I are looking for volunteers, at least two members from each center – you may also be approached by a member of your Executive Team to discuss this and other positions vital to your Association.

In closing I would like to invite all of you to our end of the year celebration to recognize the retirement of several fellow Association members.

Keep a positive spirit, be aware, get involved and let the world know we are a strong, beneficial influence on the future of Ocean County, our country and the world. Without educators, mentors and Masters of the trades, we as a society, could not have advanced to where we are today.

See you at our end of the year celebration.

Howard Polenberg, President - OCVTEA - May, 2016


Greeting fellow OCVTEA Members;

First, let me wish all of you a joyous holiday season and a happy, prosperous New Year.

I want to congratulate you on the successful passing of the Constitutional Amendment ACR-3, which will guarantee that the State meet its' legal obligation to pay into the pension fund. This is round one; round two is set for January 11, 2016. It is imperative that you seize this opportunity to let your Assembly, Congress and Senate representatives know of your resolve to protect those promises given to you and all teachers in New Jersey, when you agreed to the conditions of employment and signed your contracts. That agreement promised a pension and benefits upon your retirement after many years of exemplary service to the students, community and productive work force of New Jersey.

Our resolve in the past election helped us gain three seats for representatives who are supporters and friends of education and union members in general. Although the Chris Christie reign in New Jersey is coming to an end, we must not relax! We must stay the course and be proactive in furthering our careers and protecting the promise of benefits.

I implore you to go to the NJEA site and use the link to write your legislators or use this link: http://fundnjpension.org/take-action/

The tide is changing on the National level as well in a positive manner with respect to our profession. As you know President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); the long-awaited successor to the failed No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. The bill has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives, and is expected to come up for a vote in the U.S. Senate very soon. Both senators from New Jersey, Sen. Menendez and Sen. Booker, have pledged to support the bill. This is a positive sign which has far reaching impact.

Please continue to be proactive in fighting for your future by staying current on the issues and going to the polls and voting "Education Friendly".

Thank you and Happy Holidays

Howard Polenberg, President - OCVTEA - December, 2015