Students Speak About the Re-Opening of Public Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As a member of The Alliance for Newark Public Schools, NJ Communities United has been a leader in the successful struggle to restore local control. With full local control restored as of July 1, 2020, we continue to be advocates for public schools.  

 

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If I Knew Then What I Know Now

Nicole Lancaster is a Teacher at The Leaguers, one of Newark’s largest community-based child care providers. She holds a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Montclair State University. Nicole is successful in her field, and earns a salary that is considered above average in the child care industry. But Nicole will tell you that the steep cost of earning her degree does not keep up with the cost of living considering the child care industry’s low wages.

“Many of my co-workers speak openly about their decision not to pursue their Master's degree because of the cost,” says Nicole. “There are so many bright, talented women and men who chose not to expand their knowledge and sharpen their skills doing the work that they love, because they know it comes with a lifetime of debt.”

“I cannot argue against that. In fact, I’m exhibit A. I earn almost $65,000 a year. My Master’s degree saddled me with $40,000 in debt. Both my husband and I work, but we are barely surviving from one paycheck to the next."

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A lot of people are struggling to find food...

Meet Jason Lamberti. Jason and his family are recovering from COVID-19. At 16 years old, Jason recognizes the connection between the COVID-19 pandemic and the issue of food justice in Camden.

Many families in Camden struggled with access to fresh food and groceries before the pandemic. With the onset of COVID-19, access to fresh healthy food has hit a crisis point, and as Jason highlights, food banks and pantries are a fact of life in Camden.

“A lot of people are struggling to find meals…people were struggling to find meals before.”

https://www.facebook.com/NjCommunitiesUnited/videos/578241633098507/ 

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Uninsured, but Essential

Meet Jeanette. She’s an In-Home Child Care Provider caring for children in her North Ward neighborhood of Newark, NJ. Like many of her neighbors, the COVID-19 State of Emergency has upended Jeanette’s work – and forced her to choose between keeping an income or risking her health and the health of her family.

“I don’t have any health insurance,” says Jeanette. “For almost two decades I have cared for children and I have built a record I am very proud of. Most of my children place into advance levels when they enter school, they become honor roll students, and they go to college after high school. I know I am doing good work, but if you look at my paychecks and my benefits you would think I’m brand new.”

Typically, Jeanette cares for five children at any given time, the maximum allowed under state regulations. “I need to have four kids at all times to pay my bills every month. During normal times it is a struggle to make ends meet, and I’m forced to do things I am uncomfortable doing – the worst of which is foregoing health insurance because it’s simply too expensive.”

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Food is a Human Right...

Meet James Rodriguez, a Camden resident and a member of NJ Communities United. James is a community activist and a lecturer at his local church. James understands that personal change can lead to community change. We have the power to rebuild our communities by raising our voices and exercising our right to self-determination.

James highlights how corporate interests tied to George Norcross stripped Camden residents of the basic human right to healthy food.

Tell us – what’s your experience living in a food desert? Participate in the #OurCommunities story telling project by visiting www.UnitedNJ.org/TellYourStory.

Meet James Rodriguez, a Camden resident and a member of NJ Communities United. James is a community activist and a lecturer at his local church. James understands that personal change can lead to community change. We have the power to rebuild our communities by raising our voices and exercising our right to self-determination. Today, James highlights how corporate interests tied to George Norcross stripped Camden residents of the basic human right to healthy food. Tell us – what’s your experience living in a food desert? Participate in the #OurCommunities story telling project by visiting www.UnitedNJ.org/OurCommunities. #unitednj #tellyourstory

Posted by NJ Communities United on Friday, May 1, 2020

 

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