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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 »

AFTNJ 2014 Convention April 26

The American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ) 2014 biennial convention will be held at the Rutgers Labor Education Center in New Brunswick on April 26. The convention offers AFTNJ locals the opportunity to pass resolutions, vote on officers and recognize outstanding members and allies’ efforts.

Here are the relevant documents for convention delegates:

Proposed Agenda 2014 AFTNJ Sample Ballot
Proposed Revised Constitution Current AFTNJ Constitution

See also: officers’ elections and awards.

Newark school overhaul plan hits a glitch

By Peggy McGlone/The Star-Ledger

NEWARK — Enrollment notifications for the more than 12,000 Newark families who submitted applications for their children to attend school in September will be delayed because district officials are trying to provide some transportation to students, school officials said.
[...]
Newark Teachers Union president Joseph Del Grosso said its new radio campaign is intended to halt the plan’s implementation.

“It’s an idiotic plan,” Del Grosso said. “The plan isn’t Newark One. It’s Newark done. If it goes into operation, Newark’s education will be set back for decades. It’s our goal to see that it doesn’t happen.”

Del Grosso said the union is working with community leaders to launch a search for a replacement for Anderson, who was hired by Gov. Chris Christie in 2011.

“The community will choose someone who is well-qualified and we will present them to the Governor,” he said. “We are firmly hoping we have a different superintendent in September.”

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Jon Stewart Demolishes the NCAA’s Case Against Student-Athlete Unions

By Ben Cosman

This week saw the end of both the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments, crowning the University of Connecticut champions in both. What better time than now for Jon Stewart to completely crush the NCAA’s argument against player unions?

The debate comes up again because shortly before the UConn men’s team beat Kentucky on Monday, its star player, Shabazz Napier, told reporters “We do have hungry nights where we don’t have enough money for food.” Wait, that doesn’t make sense. “I don’t understand, surely your wealthy parents or local basketball patrons can just send you a lot of money so you can order food. How could a guy playing on the biggest stage in college sports be going hungry?” Stewart asked.

But players often come from low-income families, and so their parents can’t afford to send extra money. And players are forbidden from accepting nearly any gifts, including food – just ask the Oklahoma players punished for being served “pasta in excess.” “I guess that’s the price you pay to be involved in a struggling startup charity tournament like March Madness,” Stewart quipped. Right, except the NCAA actually makes an estimated $11 billion in revenue annually.

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Photos: Working Families United for New Jersey, 1st Annual Fundraiser

DCM accepts award

AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera accepts Community Champion Award on behalf of Randi Weingarten

Donna M. Chiera and Ras Baraka on AFTNJ Endorsement of Baraka for Newark Mayor

EDISON, New Jersey – “As a fellow educator in an urban district for more than thirty years, I appreciate that Ras Baraka is making public education a primary focus of his campaign and I am proud to convey our endorsement. Vital public services like education and healthcare are under attack, so we need to elect leaders who are committed to preserving and improving the public good, not allowing for privatization of community assets for profit,” said American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ) President Donna M. Chiera.

Baraka’s economic development plan includes working with Rutgers and NJIT to spin off new businesses, but also for the universities to play more integral roles in community development and helping foster a bottom up approach to creating jobs in the city. “I am grateful for the AFTNJ for its endorsement as it represents the best in collaboration in education from pre-kindergarten through higher education in Newark,” said Baraka. “However an endorsement is not enough, I will be looking to members at these institutions to play a direct role in creating a better city under my administration.”

The Newark Teachers Union (NTU), the state’s largest pre-kindergarten to 12 local, endorsed Baraka last month. The Union of Rutgers Administrators (URA), a local of more than 2,000 staffers at the state university’s three campuses including Newark, endorsed Baraka as well. AFTNJ includes both NTU and URA, and is the largest higher education union in the state with faculty, staff and graduate worker locals at Rutgers-Newark, NJIT and Essex County College in Newark among its 30,000 members statewide.

[END]

Follow Donna M. Chiera @DChieraM
Follow Ras J. Baraka @RasJBaraka

Opinion: What’s good for our teachers is good for our students

By Mark Weber

Attempts to deprecate or demonize teachers when they stand up for themselves are bad for our kids’ education

Why is teaching the only profession in New Jersey (and the nation) where employees are criticized for standing up for themselves?

In Newark, the teachers union has decried a plan, proposed by State Superintendent Cami Anderson, to bypass laws requiring the use of seniority in layoffs. Considering the NTU just ratified a contract in 2012 that included unprecedented provisions for merit pay and teacher evaluation, the Newark Teachers Union felt blindsided by Anderson’s request for a waiver from seniority laws.

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Union Efforts on Behalf of Adjuncts Meet Resistance Within Faculties’ Ranks

By Peter Schmidt

As part-time instructors at colleges seek to improve their working conditions through unionization, they often find that the people standing in the way of their efforts are not administrators but fellow faculty members, several union organizers and labor experts observed at a conference held here this week.

Tenure-track professors can be resistant to contract provisions that erode their power over faculty appointments or let contingent faculty members assume a bigger role in the shared governance of their institution.

The contingent faculty members that such labor-organizing efforts seek to help can themselves be deeply divided over the merits of unionization or what they hope to gain from it, according to several speakers at the annual conference of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions.

“I wish I could tell you that everything is rosy and perfect,” but “I would be kidding if I suggested there were not tensions,” said Phil Kugler, a special assistant for organizing to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Karen Thompson, a staff representative for the Rutgers University faculty union, arose in the audience of a panel discussion on Monday and spoke of finding it difficult to coax open support for unionization out of contingent faculty members who “enjoy passing” as tenured and do not want their lack of tenure and poor working conditions known to their colleagues and their students.

“Prestige is part of their pay,” said Ms. Thompson, whose union is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers.

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Teacher Evaluation Rules Will Change Only Slightly Next Year, State Decides

By John Mooney

Portion of evaluation that’s based on student test scores will remain at 30 percent for 2014-2015

With plenty of questions still swirling around this year’s planned launch of the new teacher-evaluation system, the Christie administration has told school districts that little – if anything – will change for next year.

The state Department of Education alerted districts yesterday that the basic components of the system used to determine each teacher’s rating will not change in 2014-15.

The main component of that system has to do with how teachers are rated in relation to student performance, either by test score progress or based on more specific individual assessments known as student growth outcomes (SGOs). This year, teachers whose students take the standardized tests in language arts and math will see 30 percent of their ratings developed off their students’ progress on those scores.

The memo sent to districts yesterday said those different weights will not change for next year, with 30 percent of those evaluations again based on the student test results.

The administration has the option of setting different weights each year, and under its regulations must do so by April 15.

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Board named for Rowan, Rutgers-Camden partnership

By Barbara Boyer, Inquirer Staff Writer

CAMDEN The growth of Camden’s medical corridor and academic expansion through a Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University partnership moved forward Monday with a full governing board being appointed and given broad power to act quickly.

The creation of the Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden Board of Governors grew out of a 2012 legislative attempt – contentious at times – to merge the two campuses. Under a compromise, Rutgers and Rowan remain independent but partners in “meds and eds,” which officials of each school on Monday vowed to support.

University officials and board members said they wanted research opportunities for faculty and students to try to attract biomedical grants and expansion, similar to the collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University in West Philadelphia.

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Students to Rutgers board: Freeze tuition

By Patricia Alex, Staff Writer, The Record.

Students on Tuesday asked Rutgers’ governing board to consider freezing tuition, saying that the cost of the state university is exceeding the grasp of the state’s middle class.

“My mother makes as much as Rutgers costs,” said Margarita Rosario, a junior. “Every semester I’ve had to rely on the generosity of others.”

About a dozen students spoke at a sparsely attended hearing in New Brunswick on Tuesday evening that drew about 40 people. The university’s board of governors took the testimony in advance of setting tuition and fees this summer.

Tuition and fees at Rutgers now tops $13,000 for state residents, making it one of the most expensive public universities in the nation. For students who live on campus, a year at Rutgers costs more than $25,000.

“I work 40 hours a week and even with aid it’s difficult to afford this education,” said Joe Fisher, a student from Matawan. “It’s a lot of stress.”

Fisher and others noted a spate of building projects around Rutgers campuses and questioned whether the administration was more concerned with the Rutgers brand than students.

The state university is in the midst of a building boom, including construction of new dorms and amenities. “All this construction around the campus, we see money being thrown into luxury living, I just hope the university prioritizes education,” said student Andrea Parente.

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State-Controlled Districts: Acting Commissioner Hespe’s First Headaches

By John Mooney

New schools chief must walk fine line between administration and local districts

In Newark schools, they are talking 400 layoffs of teachers and other staff next year, and the state-appointed superintendent is itching to waive seniority requirements.

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