This is Bayonne

first_imgTo the Editor:I left Wednesday’s Bayonne Board of Education meeting feeling hopeless. For the first time in my life I had the thought, “Was it a mistake to stay, buy a house, and raise my family here?” I have lived here for almost 42 years and have always spoken in defense of my hometown. Strong, genuine people were enough to combat our negative reputation in the past; but last week, I didn’t think those people would rise to the occasion. I felt consumed by doubt, anger, and sadness. The next morning, I was proven wrong. Students from Bayonne High School organized themselves and walked out in protest against a resolution by the Board of Education that 287 teachers and staff would be laid off. Students questioning, rightly so, “Where is the money?” in reference to a deficit, ranging from $2-6 million in various reports. Students who respectfully refused to accept that their teachers would not be in their classrooms come next school year. I was filled with pride for these young people. “This is Bayonne!” I thought. Then social media sites were blowing up with parental support for the teachers. Local PTAs & PTOs were reaching out to the families of this town to organize and fight this resolution that put 287 lives in chaos. We started writing letters to the teachers on “the list,” letters to the media, letters to politicians. Parents are a special group of citizens. Many are overwhelmed by responsibilities at work and at home and cannot dedicate the time they would like to promote causes. Yet this recent resolution and news of missing money in the school budget compelled parents to put laundry, dishes, homework, shopping, and work aside to fight for a better answer. Bayonne children matter. Bayonne teachers matter. I was encouraged by this. “This is Bayonne!” I thought. And in case those responsible for this egregious act are still able to sit stoned faced at the next board meeting and look out at the citizens of this town and merely say “We didn’t know.” or “We don’t know.” or “We have no other choice.” I want to say, that is not Bayonne. We, the families of Bayonne, are going to fight until we get an answer. We are going to fight to save the jobs of all 287. I have long heard “Oh, Bayonne doesn’t appreciate their teachers.” That sentiment ends now and is replaced by a new wave of activism — people like myself who chose to stay in this town despite a tone of apathy by many who thought we are bogged down, an urban pitfall. No! I call upon those who are not already in support of justice to please join us. Realtors want families to move into this town and make it a thriving community? We are a thriving community, however, you will be hard pressed to find young couples who want to send their children to a school system that cannot balance its books, has to downsize their faculty and staff so that the children suffer in a classroom of 30 students, and an administration that is not truthful. Anyone who pays taxes in this town should be disgusted that their money cannot be accounted for and should attend the next board meeting to ask. TARYN ASHElast_img

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