BY Joe Malinconico

August 16, 2021


Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh spent most of last week at an education conference in New Mexico, an event that featured expert panels on teacher evaluations, recruitment, diversity and compensation.

Sayegh was the only mayor and only official from New Jersey invited to attend the three-day conference, sponsored by the Hunt Institute, a public education policy group affiliated with Duke University.

Sayegh was among a group of invitees that included 13 lieutenant governors, 17 state legislators and 12 state Cabinet-level officials, according to a list released by the Hunt Institute. The organizers said two other mayors — one from Flagstaff, Arizona, and another from Richmond, Virginia — attended previous Hunt Institute education conferences. Last week’s event was held at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa, just north of Albuquerque.

Sayegh said the Hunt Institute picked up the tab for his flight and lodging, while he paid the airfare for his wife and children, who accompanied him.

When asked why he attended a conference about education issues that have little direct connection to the day-to-day workings of municipal government, Sayegh pointed out that he had helped direct $3.8 million in federal COVID-19 funding to the Paterson school district. He also mentioned that he has called himself “the education mayor.”

“I would like to help with recruiting and retaining teachers,” Sayegh said. “One suggestion would be to restart a Teachers Academy for high school students in Paterson.

“I would also like to speak to our federal representatives about incentivizing college students to major in education, similar to the Troops to Teachers program that exists,” the mayor added. “Furthermore, teacher attrition rate is high, and I plan to lobby legislators for a way to increase salaries for teachers.”

Another possibility mentioned by the mayor would be to work with developers to create teacher housing.

Sayegh said he already has scheduled a meeting with the president of Montclair State University to “discuss what I learned at the conference” and he would seek similar sessions with the presidents of William Paterson University and Passaic County Community College.

Sayegh said he also has reached out to Paterson Schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer to chat with her about starting a teachers’ academy.

The superintendent welcomed his input. “We know that the mayor is an ardent supporter of Paterson students,” Shafer said, “and if he has new ideas from the Hunt Kean Conference to share with Paterson Public Schools, we would welcome the chance to hear them.”

Councilman Flavio Rivera said he was unaware of the mayor’s education conference trip. “Let’s see what new things he will implement,” Rivera said.


Original article can be found here.