I would be remiss to not point out that New Jersey public schools are closed today, as they were yesterday, for the annual NJEA Convention. Unlike 47 other states in the country, NJEA holds its Convention during the school year on two November weekdays. Minnesota and Utah, like NJ, cancel school for two full days. But other states either hold their Convention during the summer or over a weekend.
NJ, however, continues an almost 100-year tradition of disrupting learning during a month that already has a four-day weekend during Thanksgiving and typically includes a number of half-days for parent-teacher conferences. This disruption is courtesy of your State Legislature, which in 1923 passed a statute — 18A:31-32 — that serves as the justification for shutting down schools for two days in November.
“Whenever any full-time teaching staff member of any board of education of any local school district or regional school district or of a county vocational school or any secretary, or office clerk applies to the board of education by which he is employed for permission to attend the annual convention of the New Jersey Education Association, such permission shall be granted for a period of not more than two days in any one year and he shall receive his whole salary for the days of actual attendance upon the sessions of such convention upon filing with the secretary of the board a certificate of such attendance signed by the executive secretary of the association.”
There are lots of benefits to annual workshops for teachers, and this year’s NJEA Convention seems especially well-attended and substantive. (See John Mooney’s article today.) But wouldn’t Atlantic City be equally nice during, say, Spring Break or early July or late August?