Last week Teach NJ held two Moms Night Out events—one in Teaneck and one in Englewood—where over 120 women came together to enjoy a sumptuous dinner and dessert, make honey jars for Rosh Hashanah, connect with other women from their communities and, in the process, learn all about the immense impact of Teach NJ and how to get involved.
The first event took place on Monday in Teaneck at the home of Deena Friedman. Wednesday’s event was hosted by Rebecca Markoff in Englewood.
Teach Coalition, a project of the Orthodox Union, is a multi-state movement devoted to works to make nonpublic schools better, safer and more affordable through advocacy and grassroots activism. Teach NJ, a division of Teach Coalition, was founded in 2015 to advocate for equitable government funding for New Jersey’s nonpublic schools.
While the event was a fun and laid-back evening, organizers saw it as a way to get more women from their communities involved. Katie Katz, executive director of Teach NJ said, “It was a great way for people to learn how Teach NJ’s work is impacting their community and their children’s lives, and what every person can do to help move the needle further for our schools and for every child in the state to receive government funding.”
Maya Joyandeh, regional field director for Teach NJ explained, “We put this event together to really give the women a chance to get involved … because we have a very strong voice, we care for our children and we want what’s best for them.” She said it was an opportunity for the women in the community to hear more about what we are doing for our schools.
Erika Gershuni, an event committee member and a board member at Yavneh Academy said, “I think Teach NJ has done wonderful things and it’s time for us to learn and get more active to help them help us.”
Teach NJ’s recent accomplishments include increased funds for special services in nonpublic schools and increased funding per pupil for transportation.
One of its more notable achievements is increased government funding for security. “When we first started this work (seven years ago), no schools received government funding for security on a per-student basis. Now, New Jersey boasts the largest nonpublic school per-pupil security allocation—not only in New Jersey’s history but in the nation,” Katz explained.
She also shared how up until a few years ago, government funds for nonpublic schools were allocated for essential items like security, nursing and materials, but never for actual educational instruction. “We championed a program that allows public school teachers to come into yeshivot and other nonpublic schools to teach STEM courses at no cost to the schools.” Instead, the salaries and benefits for these educators will be paid to them directly by the state.
These were just some of the Teach NJ highlights that Joyandeh shared with those in attendance.
She also spoke about the rising costs of education and tuition. “It’s really unfortunate that it’s coming down to dollars and cents when it comes to making decisions about expanding our families … it’s an issue that resonates with a lot of people.” But, she continued, because of Teach NJ, there is hope and it is due to the tremendous strides that have been made in the last seven years by procuring government funding for local day schools.
However, Joyandeh was quick to emphasize that there is so much more work to be done. “We can’t assume that we are going to get this funding year after year.” She encouraged the women in attendance to get involved and make their voices heard, whether through advocacy, sharing Teach NJ’s messages across multiple platforms or making donations when possible.
She ended by saying, “We really just hope that this is the start of our conversation with you … We know everyone can be involved in their own way in what speaks to them and we can make this happen together.”
To get involved or learn more about Teach NJ visit https://teachcoalition.org/nj/