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AFTNJ’s objective is to promote state wide organization and unionization of public and private school teachers, paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and staff; other workers organized in conformity with More »


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From the state’s largest school district to small privates, AFTNJ stands up for New Jersey’s students. Our members teach early childhood education to prepare kids for school, special education and every topic More »


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The American Federation of Teachers New Jersey is the largest higher education union in the state, representing full and part-time faculty, all levels of administrative, professional and supervisory staff, graduate workers, and More »


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AFTNJ members advocate for education and stand up for social justice. More »

Joint Statement on Public Service Workers on Supreme Court Grant of Cert in Friedrichs v. CTA – See more at:

Lawsuit Seeks to Curtail Freedom of Firefighters, Teachers, Nurses, First-Responders to Stick Together and Advocate for Better Public Services, Better Communities

Jeopardizes American Promise that Hard Work Leads Families to a Decent Life

WASHINGTON—NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, AFT President Randi Weingarten, CTA President Eric C. Heins, AFSCME President Lee Saunders, and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry issued the following joint statement today in response to U.S. Supreme Court granting cert to Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association:

“We are disappointed that at a time when big corporations and the wealthy few are rewriting the rules in their favor, knocking American families and our entire economy off-balance, the Supreme Court has chosen to take a case that threatens the fundamental promise of America—that if you work hard and play by the rules you should be able to provide for your family and live a decent life.


Unlikely Partners Form Alliance To Shape The Future Of Newark’s Public Schools

On heels of Cami Anderson’s resignation, Gov. Christie and Mayor Baraka name panel to work on returning district to local control

By John Mooney

The new panel given the task of guiding the end of state control of Newark’s schools – announced Friday by Gov. Chris Christie and Mayor Ras Baraka – is intriguing right down to its name: the Newark Educational Success Board.

Yet in spite of that name, there will be plenty of challenges ahead, not only in bringing together disparate groups and interests, but also in overcoming a number of regulatory and legal hurdles as well.

The joint statement released by the two political leaders amounted to dropping the other shoe, following the stunning news earlier in the week that controversial Newark schools Superintendent Cami Anderson would be stepping down after four years, succeeded by former state education commissioner Chris Cerf.

The new panel will have nine members — five appointed by the governor, four by the mayor – who will set the city on the path toward regaining control of its schools after 21 years of state operation.


Rowan plans to open medical school on NJIT Newark campus

By Kelly Heyboer, NJ Advance Media for

NEWARK — Newark could get its first new medical school in 50 years under an unusual proposal by Rowan University and New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Rowan wants to open a branch of its School of Osteopathic Medicine, located in Camden County, on NJIT’s Newark campus, university officials said. The new school could eventually enroll 200 future doctors.


Christie has handcuffed School Security Task Force, leaving N.J. kids at risk

By Patrick Diegnan Jr.

On December 14, 2012, an armed intruder attacked Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The inconceivable carnage left 20 children dead, along with six adults who attempted to thwart the attack. Although there will never be a simple answer as to how to prevent the behavior which led to the attack, everyone agrees that access to our schools is far too easy for those intent on causing harm.

Immediately after the Sandy Hook shooting, members of the New Jersey Legislature made proposals to improve school safety. Upon the request of Gov. Chris Christie, these initiatives were placed on hold so that a commission could be formed to study the issue on a holistic basis. Gov. Christie signed legislation creating the School Security Task Force into law in August of 2013. The task force consisted of an 11-member body commissioned to study and develop recommendations to ensure a safe environment for students and school employees. As a legislator and as a parent, I was proud to be a part of this bipartisan approach to develop a statewide program to make our schools safe. I was hopeful that renovations to our schools would be underway within a matter of months.

I must regrettably report that the only thing that has been accomplished over the two years since the bill was signed is an increase in my frustration, as well as that of my legislative colleagues.

Gov. Christie did not appoint members to the School Security Task Force until March 2014, seven months after signing the bill. During that time, he twice rejected legislation to require silent alarms in schools (A-373), noting that he would “reserve judgment on the proposal until the School Security Task Force completes its study and issues its findings and recommendations on school security issues.” From December 2014, I repeatedly have asked the Department of Education about the status of the recommendations of the task force. I was assured that a report would be published in April. Nothing has been forthcoming. It is my understanding that the recommendations of the task force are stalled in the governor’s office.


Wayne Hills honor society students raise attention to homeless veterans

By Debra Winters, Staff Writers, Wayne Today

WAYNE – National Honor Society (NHS) students at Wayne Hills High School recently made a social statement when they slept outside in boxes to bring awareness to the problem of homeless military veterans plaguing our country.

The event, NHS Goes Homeless, was a fundraiser for Home Front Hearts, a New Jersey organization which provides assistance to veterans in need including homeless vets and military families.

“It is shameful that after serving our country many veterans return homeless and live on the streets,” said Ellie McNeil, chair of the WHHS NHS. “We owe these brave men and women our gratitude and support.”

McNeil asked for support from the American Federation of Teachers faculty union at William Paterson University where sociology professor Susanna Tardi, who serves as president of the local and executive vice president of the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ), took on the cause by helping to raise funds locally and from AFTNJ.


Feds Find New Jersey Violated Esea Waiver By Not Helping Newark Schools

Responding to a complaint filed by Education Law Center (ELC), the U.S. Department of Education (USED) has found the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) failed to comply with requirements of its Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver by not intervening to improve 28 low performing schools in Newark.

By letter dated June 19, Acting Assistant Secretary Heather Reiman details USED’s investigation of ELC’s complaint that, in 2012, then-Commissioner of Education Chris Cerf improperly gave into a demand from Newark’s State-appointed Superintendent, Cami Anderson, to allow her to retain full control over 28 low-performing schools classified by NJDOE as “priority” and “focus” schools. Superintendent Anderson wanted to prevent qualified staff from the NJDOE’s Regional Achievement Center (RAC) for Hudson/Essex Counties from intervening to improve the schools, as is required for all priority and focus schools statewide under New Jersey’s ESEA waiver and State “school turnaround” regulations.

Assistant Secretary Reiman concludes that USED’s investigation “supports the allegations” in ELC’s complaint “that the Essex/Hudson RAC did not fulfill the responsibilities of a RAC outlined in New Jersey’s ESEA flexibility request with respect to NPS’ Priority and Focus schools.” The Assistant Secretary, in reviewing NJ Education Commissioner David Hespe’s response to ELC’s complaint, found:

  • The Essex/Hudson RAC did not conduct the mandated school reviews or complete improvement plans for each Newark priority and focus school.
  • The Essex/Hudson RAC provided no assistance to the Newark schools from qualified RAC staff, and did not provide other assistance required by the ESEA waiver to help the schools improve student outcomes over the last three years.
  • State Superintendent Anderson was given free rein to devise improvement plans for schools that did not conform to the rigorous requirements in the ESEA waiver, and which NJDOE carried out in other priority and focus schools across the state.

The Assistant Secretary also acknowledges ELC’s complaint that NJDOE’s failure to intervene in the Newark schools not only violates the conditions of New Jersey’s ESEA waiver, but also conflicts with State school turnaround regulations. Those regulations codify in state law the RAC intervention and improvement protocols in the ESEA waiver.

“The Assistant Secretary has now confirmed what we’ve known for some time: New Jersey education officials flagrantly violated their promise to the U.S. Department of Education that they would bring significant and sustained help to all low performing schools, including those in Newark,” said ELC Executive Director David Sciarra. “Governor Chris Christie’s administration abandoned these schools for the last three years, leaving teachers, principals and parents without the resources and support they desperately need to improve outcomes for students.”


Press: Students, Faculty and Staff Call for Implementation of Opportunity Fund Increase

CONTACT: Patrick Nowlan, pnowlan [@], 908-812-0972; Nat T. Bender, nbender[@], 908-377-0393

Cite high success rate of EOF program for low-income, minority students

“The New Jersey Legislature’s budget committees took a significant step for New Jersey’s students by restoring and expanding funds for the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF),” said Shornna Berkeley, a student counselor at Rutgers. “The legislature recognized that our students, who are from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds, need the opportunity to attend our colleges and universities and additional academic support to succeed there.”

Governor Christie’s proposed a $1.6 million cut in EOF funds from the higher education budget, but the legislature reversed the decrease and added approximately one million dollars to allow more deserving students into the program.

The Council of New Jersey State College Locals, the union for 10,000 faculty, staff and librarians at nine state four-year public colleges and universities, is strongly in favor of the additional funding, according to president Tim Haresign, a Stockton professor. “Educational Opportunity Fund students have tremendously high retention and graduation rates,” he said. “The program has a long proven record for promoting student success.”

The EOF program launched in 1968 with the support of Governor Tom Kean, then a freshman state senator.

“I’m so excited that we were able to effectively advocate for this funding and that our elected officials heard our voice,” said Alex Uematsu, a second year Rutgers student and legislative chair for New Jersey United Students. “We will be watching Governor Christie and calling on him to take note of our needs as students, just as he did when he signed the Dream Act.”

Berkeley participated in the advocacy through Rutgers AAUP-AFT, her 6,600-member union. “As a counselor at Rutgers and a leader in my union, I’d like to thank all of the students, faculty and staff who went to Trenton in the spring and signed petitions to restore the proposed funding cuts”, said Berkeley. “In the end, we were able to increase funding which benefits more students with dedicated counseling. We hope that Governor Christie agrees that we need to support our most vulnerable students and communities through great programs like EOF.”

The American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ) is the largest higher education union in the state, representing faculty and staff at the nine state colleges and universities, Rutgers, and half of the community colleges. “Increasing funding in this program is truly an investment that pays back in a better higher education system, more opportunity for New Jersey students and families and a better educated workforce for the state,” said AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera. “This is money well allocated and the legislators who supported it should be commended.”


The American Federation of Teachers New Jersey is the largest higher education union in the state, representing 20,000 full and part-time faculty, all levels of administrative, professional and supervisory staff, graduate workers, and postdoctoral researchers at a majority of the state’s public colleges and universities.

The Reality Of Cerf Return Starts To Dawn On Newark Politicos, Teachers

By John Mooney


Meanwhile, the Newark Teachers Union yesterday elected its first new president in 20 years, picking longtime union official John Abeigon to replace outgoing president Joseph Del Grosso.

It was no small development, given that the union has long been a thorn in Anderson’s side and is about to face new contract negotiations to follow up on the district’s landmark deal of three years ago.

Negotiated by Cerf and Anderson on one side and Del Grosso and American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten on the other, that deal led to the state’s first large-scale performance bonuses for teachers, a point of pride for both Anderson and Christie.

But it also has been a point of dispute between the union and the administration ever since, with the union contending that the contract’s full provisions to protect teachers were never adequately implemented. The contract expires on June 30.

Abeigon, 57, has been a chief antagonist of Anderson’s and hardly struck a conciliatory tone yesterday about her successor, saying he wanted to take the union on a more “radical” path than his predecessor, adding that he doubted a similar contract could be struck under his leadership.

“I am my own man, nobody hired me as a ‘yes’ man, ” Abeigon said at a post-election gathering at a restaurant in Newark’s Ironbound district.

“I am more radical, and more open to radicalism,” he continued. “I recognize this is a war on public employees and school employees in general that somehow needs to be turned back.

“We have to be a different union,” Abeigon said. “Of course, we still need to be bread-and-butter services for our members, since for most members that’s Number One. But obviously, there is a contingent that wants to see more radical action, more involvement with social justice causes.”

A former English teacher, Abeigon finished ahead of two rivals for the post, with only about a quarter of the eligible members casting mail-in ballots.

Abeigon drew 452 votes; Branden Rippey, leading the Newark Education Workers faction, drew 365; and former union secretary Michael Dixon drew 243. Abeigon’s slate also won 23 of 29 executive board positions.

Rippey said he would challenge the vote, and Dixon also questioned the mail-in process that saw such a low turnout. But both also said they hope the union can unite in facing off against the new leadership of the district.


Looking Beyond Cami Anderson; Newark Braces for Cerf

By David Cruz, Correspondent

When he hired her five years ago, Gov. Chris Christie wanted everyone to know that Cami Anderson had his unbridled support.

“She’s got a blocking back in Trenton that will either lead the way when I need to clear the hole or come up from behind to make sure that nobody’s taking cheap shots,” he said then.

This week the governor — preparing perhaps for a whole different ballgame — announced that his hand-picked superintendent, the one he just re-signed to a three-year deal in February, was out. Her replacement, former Education Department Commissioner and Cami Anderson ally, Chris Cerf.

“Of course, we are very happy to see her go, but it’s not about the person, it’s about the policies,” said Advisory Board member Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson, “so if it comes to fruition that Chris Cerf is appointed the next superintendent, it’s very problematic for us.”

Board members and teachers union officials say they expect a return to local control, a full stop on the “One Newark” reform plan and a return to what they call “community schools,” ending the so-called “open enrollment,” which had some kids getting bused to schools across town. To them Cerf is a non-starter.

“The problem with appointing Christopher Cerf to fill her shoes is that he was her mentor,” noted Newark Teachers Union Vice President John Abeigon. “He was her mentor and is even a truer believer in the types of policies that she was pushing down the throats of Newarkers.”


Sarlo proposes $20M to cover startup costs of medical school at ex-Roche site

By Lindy Washburn and Patricia Alex, Staff Writers, The Record

State taxpayers would pay most of the start-up costs for a private medical school planned for the former Hoffmann-La Roche campus on Route 3, if a $20 million amendment to the upcoming state budget by Sen. Paul A. Sarlo, the Senate budget committee chairman, is approved.

“It would be a straight-up appropriation for Hackensack,” the Wood-Ridge Democrat said, referring to the proposal by Hackensack University Medical Center’s parent and Seton Hall University to open the state’s first private medical school in 50 years. The appropriation is to be added as a line item to the state budget under discussion for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.

Sarlo said using public money for the private venture is justified because the grant will boost the local economy, which lost thousands of jobs when Roche closed its headquarters and research site on the border of Clifton and Nutley in 2013. He also believes the school will help alleviate a projected shortage of doctors in New Jersey, he added.

The money for the medical school was part of a higher-education funding package announced Monday. It included an additional $10 million to start a branch of the Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark. The school will educate primary-care doctors, while Hackensack’s program is more likely to educate physician specialists, Sarlo said.

The amendment included no additional funding for Rutgers University, which has borne $51 million in costs associated with the absorption of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, the state’s public medical university.


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