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Senate’s education leader steps up and moves on

John Mooney | December 15, 2021 | NJ Spotlight |


Headed to a leadership post, Sen. Teresa Ruiz reflects on a decade of running education policy

For the past decade as chair of the state Senate’s education committee, Sen. Teresa Ruiz has been called arguably the most influential lawmaker in Trenton when it comes to school matters.

As she soon steps down from that chair to become Senate majority leader, her influence is not all that arguable anymore.

Ruiz (D-Essex) will gavel her committee to order Thursday in what in all likelihood will be her last meeting before taking the new leadership role in the Senate — a promotion that by anyone’s measure will heighten her profile.

But the move at the same time will take her from her familiar place at the head of the dais in a first-floor committee room of the State House, where the panel meets and Ruiz has presided over virtually every big education debate of the last decade in this state, from teacher tenure to testing and standards.

In an interview with NJ Spotlight News on Tuesday, Ruiz was getting a little nostalgic already.


“It breaks my heart that I can’t do both,” Ruiz said, noting that protocol prevents her from holding the two roles at the same time.

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