He was just sworn in to the state Assembly and left his post as mayor of Roselle. Assemblyman Jamel Holley told NJTV News Correspondent Michael Hill that many issues have been discussed in the Legislature since he was sworn in.
“It’s been an incredible week for me,” said Holley. “Just being sworn in last Monday, jumped right into the PARCC examination and assessments. We’ve also had the budget message and as of just last Friday we just were hammered down with the Exxon Mobil settlement with DEP and the Christie administration. So it’s been a pretty interesting week for me down here.”
Recently the PARCC exam has been an issue that has been discussed in the Legislature and around the state, as testing was set to get underway Monday. Holley said that the PARCC exam has been hurting his district and that he has received messages from teachers in Union Township about how the test had to be postponed for some technological issues. He also said that he had met with the superintendent of Roselle and talked about how it cost about half a million dollars to prepare for the exam.
Last Monday the Assembly voted to put a moratorium on the exam. Holley said that there is too much pressure on teachers, students, educators and administrators surrounding the test and that no one is really prepared for it.
“The teachers are concerned that they’re going away from teaching the textbook and focusing on just teaching the test. And that’s not how you educate kids and so we voted for and it was passed in the Assembly to put a moratorium on the PARCC examination and assessments until we can get a handle on this matter, because it’s straining our educational system and our community and our educational community and that’s not what it should be,” he said.
Recently the Christie administration and Exxon Mobil reached a settlement, where Exxon Mobil would pay $250 million for $8.9 billion in environmental damages. Holley said that he is concerned about the settlement and has been in communication with Sen. Ray Lesniak about the issue. Both Holley and Lesniak have concerns about the settlement and, according to Holley, will be meeting with local and state representatives in the district to discuss the matter. Holley said that the amount of gap in money in the settlement draws concern and that along with Lesniak, he wants to know what led to the $250 million amount instead of the full amount to clean up the environmental damage.
“I’ve been in contact and communications with Sen. Lesniak. We’re looking to draft some language to go into a public comment. If we find that there is any fraudulent or arbitrary matters in this case, that settlement can be overturned and we’re hoping to look into this more,” said Holley. “As I said, it just dropped down to us on Friday and we’re looking into the matter more closely.”
As for working with Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, Holley said, “Jon Bramnick, our Republican leader’s a very good friend of mine. We go back a long way. He’s a fellow Republican assemblyman in our county. We work very well together, given the bipartisanship of what’s going on down here in Trenton. I look forward to working with him and continuing our relationship. Jon is not threatened by me at no point. He’s a good comedian and a good friend. ”