Wednesday, March 19, 2014

An Open Letter to NJDOE Commissioner David Hespe #NJED

Over the years, and in my latest book, I have written about how social media has presented me and my school with numerous opportunities that I never could have imagined would be possible.  I stress the fact that we now have a plethora of free tools that compel leaders, or all educators for that matter, to become the storyteller-in-chief.  Regardless of whether the stories are being penned by myself, my staff, or the students of New Milford High School, we have done just that at NMHS. We have taken control of our public relations for our school and now actively promote all of the great work we are doing to prepare students for success in a global, digital world. Not only has the local media taken notice of the impactful work we are doing, but others around the world have as well.  I’m not going to lie, one of the best parts of my job as a Principal is being able to put my school in a position to be a model for the types of changes education needs and deserves.

Image credit:

Well, I have digressed a bit from the purpose of why I am writing this post. Not only has social media allowed us to flip the script and drown out the negative rhetoric that surrounds education all across the country, but it has also helped me find my voice. This still fascinates me, as I never thought that my opinions and ideas would have much traction outside Bergen County, NJ.  After my dear friend Ken Royal gave me a nudge, over four years ago I began to share my thoughts through blogging.   I have not shied away from sharing my opinions on educational technology, leadership, politics, policy, and reform.  The opinions of all educators matter and it is through platforms such as blogs and Twitter that I, and colleagues across the state, hope to engage all stakeholders in a meaningful conversation on how we can improve education.

Time to get back to my point.  Earlier this week I saw an article from NJ Spotlight titled THE LIST: NEW JERSEY'S 'EDUBLOGGERS' TALK POLICY, POLITICS -- AND TECHNOLOGY.  To my surprise I was identified as a blogger in NJ with some influence. Whether or not I do is besides the point. I immediately saw an opportunity to leverage this so-called influence to engage David Hespe, the new NJDOE Commissioner, in a conversation about the state of education in NJ. The previous Commissioner did not seem very concerned about what those of us in the trenches thought about the current state of education in our great state. To my knowledge there was little to no discourse with students who have and will continue to be impacted by the flurry of changes enacted in a short period of time. We can change this now Commissioner Hespe.

It is my hope that my network can assist me with getting him a message that we welcome an open dialogue so that together we can create teaching and learning cultures that work for our students. My goal is to have David Hespe visit New Milford HS in the near future to see firsthand the innovative work we are doing here.  Then I would like to set up a forum with other state educators so we can share our thoughts on some of the reforms that have been implemented as of late.  This would not be a gripe session, but instead an open conversation about how we can find a common group to accomplish the same goal we all possess – the success of our students.

I compel Commissioner Hespe to answer my call to action. Visit with us here at New Milford HS, engage in a dialogue with an array of educators and students, and listen to some of the ideas, as well as concerns, we have.  Let’s talk about the roll-out of Achieve NJ, Common Core, PARCC, SGO’s as well as some amazing innovative initiatives that inspire a passion for learning among our students.  The previous We can work out the details through email and then the phone, but let’s get this conversation started.  There is no better time than now for us to unite and move NJ to educational greatness as nothing less is expected. Please email me at


  1. Always appreciate you sharing your opinions and thoughts. Glad to learn with and from you.

  2. Well done Eric! I hope that your state gets to have this and many more conversations with those doing the work of educating others and the learners themselves.