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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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Prekindergarten – 12

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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Higher Education

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 Activism

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

4 Key Questions Experts Are Asking About Obama’s College-Ratings Plan

By Max Lewontin, Washington

President Obama’s proposed federal college-ratings system is set to be released in time for the 2015 academic year, but if the comments from administrators and researchers at a hearing on Friday are anything to go by, the plan appears to be far from complete.

The ratings system will examine colleges based on measures of access for low-income and first-generation students, on affordability, and on student outcomes. It remains controversial because the ratings could eventually be tied to colleges’ access to federal aid.

At the public-comment hearing—held by the federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, which will release a report to Congress on the ratings system at the end of the month—participants repeatedly raised a number of concerns about the plan.

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Big Ten: Why is Rutgers behind in the fundraising game?

By Kelly Heyboer and Ted Sherman

NEW BRUNSWICK — In the quest to raise money for Rutgers University, senior Keith Culbreth has been on the front lines.

During the spring semester, the student manned cubicle No. 27 in the Rutgers Telefund call center in New Brunswick. He spent his evenings phoning graduating seniors, alumni and parents to ask them to make a contribution to the state’s largest university.

Following a carefully-worded script, Culbreth began his pitch optimistically high: “Would you be willing to make a senior gift of $200?” he asked one graduating accounting major from Manalapan. His question was met with a moment of silence, then annoyance, before the caller abruptly hung up.

Rutgers, one of the oldest and largest universities in the nation, has long had problems raising money. At the end of the last fiscal year, the school’s endowment stood at $783 million— ranking far below most universities its size, according to an annual study of college finances.

And as its sports teams begin playing in the Big Ten athletic conference this month alongside Penn State, Ohio State, the University of Michigan and other NCAA Division 1 powerhouses, Rutgers’ modest bank account stands in sharp contrast to other members of the elite club it has joined. Among the 14 schools in the Big Ten, Rutgers’ endowment ranked dead last at the end of last year. Top-ranked University of Michigan had an $8.4 billion endowment — more than 10 times larger than Rutgers’ endowment.

University officials say they are turning around the school’s fundraising efforts — bringing in a university-record $148 million in donations over the last 12 months for the fiscal year that ended in June. But they acknowledge the pressure is on to significantly step up fundraising, in part to offer scholarships and build new facilities to help its football and other athletic teams compete in the larger, wealthier Big Ten conference.

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#NPSShutdown

At this historic moment for Rutgers, remember the workers: Opinion

By Eric LeGrand

Rutgers’ entry into the Big Ten is a thrilling milestone for me — both as an alum and as a Scarlet Knights football player. But I want to call attention to something that’s getting a bit less play these days: the thousands of women and men who every day make Rutgers University a great place to learn, play and grow.

Eric LeGrand was a commencement speaker during 2014 graduation ceremonies at Rutgers University (John O'Boyle/Star-Ledger)

Eric LeGrand was a commencement speaker during 2014 graduation ceremonies at Rutgers University (John O'Boyle/Star-Ledger)


Right now, most of Rutgers’ team of faculty and staff who are members of unions are engaged in contract negotiations with the university. They are asking for something that students, athletes and fans can strongly support. They simply want fairness and respect. And they wish to be recognized for their essential role in making our university the top-notch institution we all value and cherish.

I earned my degree from the excellent School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers while I played football. And while it was an honor to represent the university on the field, the nurturing and guidance I received in the classroom and from the teachers and staff was more important. I learned an enormous amount from my professors, many of whom went beyond the call of duty to help me succeed after I was severely injured and unable to attend classes.

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Beyond Bullying: Building Schools Where Everyone Belongs

A Special Conference with Stan Davis, October 23-24, 2014

A conference and seminar for teachers, counselors, nurses, administrators, paraprofessionals, and other educators who are working to make their schools more welcoming places for all. Consultants and trainers who work with schools are also welcome.

Participants will receive presentation handouts and related materials, and be able to purchase Stan’s books – Schools Where Everyone Belongs, Empowering Bystanders in Bullying Prevention, and Youth Voice Project: Student Insights Into Bullying and Peer Mistreatment – at a substantial discount.
KEAN UNIVERSITY STEM Building, Union, NJ
October 23-24, 2014 – 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.*

*ATTEND DAY ONE ONLY OR BOTH DAYS
Thursday, October 23: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm (Maximum 200 Participants)
Friday, October 24: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm (Limited to 30 Participants) – Alumni House
*Day One attendance is prerequisite for Day Two.

Early bird Cost (including breakfast, lunch & breaks):
Thursday only – $99 (by September 1)
Thursday & Friday – $199 (by September 1)
Kean University students: one day $49 / both days $99

Co-sponsored by:
NJ Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention and Kean University’s, Counselor Education Department, Nathan Weiss Graduate College College of Education

For questions, call the NJ Coalition at 908-522-2581
Register>>

Common Core controversy continues in N.J. and across nation

By Peggy McGlone, The Star-Ledger

It was intended as a yardstick for the nation’s public schools.

The idea was to develop a national set of rigorous academic standards — known as the Common Core — outlining the math and language arts skills that students should be able to master to be ready for 21st-century college and careers.

But the education overhaul has stirred massive opposition in recent months, with critics on the left and right growing in size and volume. And as the new school year begins, parents, teachers, education advocates and state officials are sparring over the Common Core and its effect on students.

“It’s untested,” complained Seton Hall University education professor Christopher Tienken. “There’s no evidence that it is better than what New Jersey had before.”

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AFTNJ Pres Chiera Support for Parent-Led Boycott of Newark Public Schools

Contact: Nat T. Bender, nbender [at] aftnj.org, 908-377-0393

EDISON, N.J.—Statement from American Federation of Teachers New Jersey President Donna Chiera on the parent-led boycott of Newark public schools.

“We stand in unity with the Newark education community in calling for open, democratic decision-making when considering important issues affecting Newark students and families. Media reports about the One Newark enrollment process have been discouraging and disturbing, with stories of children separated from siblings, making transportation more difficult or impossible. We learned of children being forced to take multiple buses or walk through dangerous neighborhoods to get to school. Shouldn’t the safety of Newark’s children be everyone’s concern?

“Teachers, families and the community have no confidence in the state-imposed leadership of Superintendent Cami Anderson and have called for her immediate removal and a return to a democratically elected local school board. The Newark Teachers Union has worked in good faith with Superintendent Anderson. But with a school district in total chaos, how can school staff be evaluated fairly—especially when the person doing the evaluating got a weak evaluation herself? Anderson’s disregard for the community and Newark’s children demonstrates her profound lack of leadership.

“We support the community-involvement precepts of the Newark Promise plan for education, created in collaboration with all the important stakeholders who only want the best for Newark’s public school students and families. We join with parents and the community in calling for a sustained commitment to keeping neighborhood schools open to all students and providing vital wraparound services to students and families in need.

“We know that concerned parents are not making the extraordinarily difficult decision to boycott school without having explored and exhausted all other plausible options. We have witnessed the community—parents, teachers, school staff and students—as they actively sought to discuss problems with school management and to propose viable solutions.

“The community has been to Trenton to petition Gov. Chris Christie, only to be told, ‘I am the decider’; they were disregarded and left voiceless. Students have walked out of school to protest the conditions that impede their learning. They have occupied board business meetings to call for high-quality education. These calls have gone unheeded, so the pending boycott is a natural progression for a community that has effectively had its voice silenced.

“We stand in solidarity with the Newark community in calling for the state of New Jersey and the city of Newark to listen to Newark’s parents, students and community and to act immediately in the best interests of Newark’s future.”

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How much does it cost to go to college in N.J.?: Tuition at 4-year colleges continue to rise

By Kelly Heyboer, The Star-Ledger

NEWARK — Students at Ramapo College and the College of St. Elizabeth will get a reprieve this year. But undergraduates at the rest of New Jersey’s four-year colleges will have to dig a little deeper to pay their tuition bills as they return to campus this semester.

Across the state, cash-strapped students called on their colleges to freeze tuition. Only Ramapo, a public college in Mahwah, and the College of St. Elizabeth, a private Catholic college in Convent Station, agreed to keep this year’s tuition at last year’s rates.

Undergraduates at New Jersey’s other four-year colleges and universities will pay between 1.3 percent and 4.7 percent more during the 2014-15 school year, according to a Star-Ledger survey of two dozen public and private schools.

[...]

But many students were still disappointed their tuition continues to rise. At Rowan University, senior Jalina Wayser was among the students calling for the school’s board to hold down tuition.

Rowan froze tuition last year. But this year, tuition and fees are going up 1.9 percent to $12,616.
“Even if a tuition increase is $300, that could mean the difference between someone going to school or dropping out,” said Wayser, a member of New Jersey United Students, a statewide student group campaigning for more financial help for students.

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Sussex County college trustees should have known ethics rules, experts say

By Seth Augenstein, The Star-Ledger

NEWTON — The three Sussex County Community College trustees who were on the payroll of an engineering firm they also hired at the school weren’t aware of their ethical obligations required by state law and the school’s ethics code, an independent investigation found Monday.

But experts doubt that.

“If they say they are unaware, then they are lying or incompetent,” said Brigid Harrison, a professor of political science at Montclair State University.

“It would be unusual for three members to not know their responsibilities,” added Alex Plinio, co-founder of the Institute for Ethical Leadership at the Rutgers Business School. “Perception is as important as reality when it comes to these situations.”

Trustees Glen Vetrano and Edward Leppert — both Gov. Chris Christie appointees — and Glenn Gavan all did paid work for Sparta-based firm CP Engineers. The three also variously voted to approve work for the firm over the last sixteen months.

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