Sweeney’s college plan addresses affordability, retaining N.J. students

In a guest column for The Star-Ledger, State Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney writes about a plan that would guarantee the last two years of college at any of New Jersey’s public higher education institutions are tuition-free for students from qualifying N.J. households based on adjusted gross income.

His plan, which he says “uses a similar model that is now in place” with the Community College Opportunity Grant, “will help make a college education affordable and help retain more of those students who now are going elsewhere to college out of state because it is less expensive,” Sweeney writes.…

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Mercy and change are at the heart of Many Threads webinar

Join Leven “Chuck” Wilson, whose credits include being a partner of the AFT’s teacher diversity program, for the webinar “Courageous Conversation: The Art of Listening, Mercy and Change” on April 22 at 4 p.m. ET.

According to the description by co-presenter NYSUT, participants of this Many Threads, One Fabric session will “learn more about the essential art of change as we fight to address the attitudinal and structural barriers behind the persistent racial disparities witnessed in our communities and workplaces.”…

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Bridges meets with AFTNJ’s higher education leaders

Calling it “the first of many meetings,” New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Brian Bridges on April 16 hosted a virtual session with AFTNJ’s higher education leaders.

“Our organization has been looking forward to the opportunity to meet with you and share our concerns regarding higher education,” said Dr. Susanna Tardi, AFTNJ’s executive vice president/higher education, in her opening comments.…

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Murphy’s new gun reforms include regulating school shooting drills

As part of new gun reforms unveiled April 15, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has proposed a measure authorizing the Department of Education to establish trauma-informed and age-appropriate standards for lockdown drills.

“I think of the tens of thousands of Newark schoolchildren who returned to their classrooms this week for the first time in a year … and as I do, I know that we must do everything in our power to ensure that they are safe not just in those classrooms but as they make their way to and from home every single day,” Murphy said at an appearance in Newark.…

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These instructional strategies actively engage students

Cognitive routines, visual routines and discussion protocols are instructional strategies “that can have a big impact on student learning,” writes educational consultant Angela Di Michele Lalor in an April 14 post for Edutopia.

“When teachers select instructional strategies that actively engage students and develop those methods as routines for student learning, they’re equipping students with strategies for approaching the new and unknown,” she writes.…

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Report explores pandemic’s effect on upcoming kindergartners

School districts can expect greater age differences in kindergarten classrooms this fall and should prepare for wider skill disparities among those children, according to a report by the nonprofit organization NWEA.

“Among the many ways in which schools are being transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the change in public school kindergarten enrollment is one likely to have important consequences in classrooms across the nation,” write Beth Tarasawa, Angela Johnson and Christine Yankel.…

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Weingarten now OK with CDC’s revised distancing guidance for K-12 schools

AFT President Randi Weingarten recently received a letter signed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel A. Cardona that Weingarten says “has eased my concerns” regarding the CDC’s revised guidance reducing physical distancing in K-12 schools from six feet to three feet.

“They responded forthrightly to every question we posed, making clear that reduced distancing in classrooms for kids must be accompanied by the layered mitigation strategies,” Weingarten wrote in a letter to AFT colleagues that was obtained by U.S.…

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NTU members, Newark students begin part-time in-person learning

After more than a year of remote learning, roughly 40 percent of Newark’s PreK-12 students were expected to start part-time in-person instruction on April 12.

For Newark Teachers Union (Local 481) member Catia Nascimento, classroom mitigation strategies go hand in hand with behavior conducted outside of school buildings.

“We’re trying to provide a very safe environment to learn,” said Nascimento, who teaches at East Side High School, in a recent NJ Advance Media story by Rebecca Panico.…

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Survey: AFT members getting vaccinated at high rate

According to a survey conducted by Hart Research Associates, 81 percent of AFT members have either received a COVID-19 vaccine or are scheduled to get one.

“Educators are rolling up their sleeves, not only to get vaccinated but to return to in-person schooling with the CDC’s safety guardrails in place,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten in a statement.…

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CDC’s Walensky: In-person learning for all students in September

The plan for the start of the 2021-22 school year is to have in-person learning for all students, no matter if they have received COVID-19 vaccines, according to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s director.

“We should anticipate, come September 2021, that schools should be full-fledged in person and all of our children back in the classroom,” Dr.…

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Agreement provides job security for Rutgers unions

Five Coalition of Rutgers Unions locals, among them Rutgers AAUP-AFT (Local 6323) and URA-AFT (Local 1766), recently ratified an agreement with Rutgers University that provides job security, a timetable for raises and other gains for the CRU.

“We finally got the administration to change direction and adopt our people-centered approach,” said Todd Wolfson, president of Rutgers AAUP-AFT.…

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