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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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Clifton volunteer earns Everyday Hero award

By Maggie Katz, Correspondent, Clifton Journal

CLIFTON — Super heroes are extraordinary: they fly, can bench-press cars, and some can leap tall buildings in a single bound. They are not average people. In the face of such incredible fiction, it leaves the rest of us feeling a bit lackluster. However, there is hope. Cliftonite Krystal Woolston is a community service volunteer whose repertoire may rival even Superman. Last month in Los Angeles she was recognized with the Everyday Hero award at the American Federation of Teachers convention.

Krystal Woolston

Clifton resident Krystal Woolston, above, and a group of volunteers, help rebuild homes damaged by natural disasters. Woolston recently traveled to California to accept the Everyday Hero award for her work.

While some may argue whether heroes are born or made, Woolston started her service work in middle school, after being inspired by her mother, volunteering with the youth group at her local church in Hazlet. For her, even when the rest of her life felt like a lot to bear, the youth group and its service projects gave her stability. She grew up in Middletown, before attending Brookdale Community College and Montclair State University, where she studied English and counseling. Now 30 years old, Woolston continues to be inspired to a life of service, which has taken this Clifton resident to locations across the country and even to other parts of the globe. Her travels have taken her to Keansburg, a small town still in need of Sandy relief two years after the storm, and as far as Haiti, where she has traveled on several occasions with her former youth leader.

“I went by chance [to Haiti] the first time,” Woolston recounted. “I ran into an old youth leader when doing Sandy cleanup and she mentioned having space on the upcoming trip she was running and asked me if I wanted to participate[...] I feel such a connection to that place and loved every second – I knew I had to go back the next year.”

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Cold, cold, cold video: #alsicebucketchallenge @dchiera @rweingarten @njaflcio

Newark teachers, parents and students file lawsuit to stop school reorganization

By Peggy McGlone, The Star-Ledger

NEWARK — A coalition of Newark parents, teachers and students has filed a civil rights complaint with the state Department of Education to stop the city’s school reorganization plan from going into effect next month.

An attorney, Robert Pickett, filed the complaint on behalf of 24 people who who the One Newark plan is “defacto racial segregation” that violates the state’s constitution.

The complaint also contends the plan violates the state’s charter school law because it gives three schools to charter school operators without the required support of the schools’ students, teachers and parents.

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Rutgers trustees looking for legal advice on governance overhaul after Sweeney ultimatum

By Kelly Heyboer, The Star-Ledger

NEW BRUNSWICK — Under pressure from state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Rutgers University’s board of trustees will meet behind closed doors early next month to discuss the legal implications of a proposed overhaul of the state university’s governance system, school officials said.

The trustees have scheduled a Sept. 2 special meeting in Winants Hall on the New Brunswick campus, according to an Open Public Meetings notice filed by the university last week. The trustees will begin the meeting at 6 p.m. in public, then go into a closed session 10 minutes later to meet with Rutgers attorneys.

The only topic of the closed-door meeting will be “to discuss with counsel and obtain legal advice regarding the legal implications of implementing the recommendations of the Task Force on Governance,” according to the notice.

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Bills finally address college sexual assaults with victim advocates, crime reports: Editorial

Star-Ledger Editorial Board

When a college student is raped, universities often play conflicting roles of cop, counselor, judge and jury — with little incentive to see that real justice is done. As a result, victims too often choose to suffer silently rather than report their attacker.

Those unreported crimes make for an incomplete picture, but the numbers we have are staggering: 1 in 5 female college students will be sexually assaulted, and 88 percent of those attacks will never be reported. That’s a shameful number of victims suffering alone and a frightening number of attackers who will go unpunished.

Advocates for assault victims have been sounding this on-campus alarm for years. Finally, constructive proposals have been put forward in both Washington and Trenton.

Both call for colleges to hire confidential victims’ advocates — a critical service for rape survivors, who can be frightened or overwhelmed. Without such help, many victims choose silence, never reporting the crime and never getting the help needed to heal.

Both measures also seek open reporting of campus rape data. The federal bill calls for a confidential national survey and requires that every university publish its results, as the military does today. That would be a major improvement to the weak reporting requirements in the law now.

The problem with both bills is that they don’t require colleges and universities to inform local prosecutors when a student reports a rape, as Rutgers University does. Some advocates worry that will discourage reporting even further. That is a legitimate concern, but it is outweighed by the need to confront this clear threat to public safety.

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Fine Print: “Student Growth Objective” Process Anything But Simple

By John Mooney

State education officials offer examples of how goals fit into revamped teacher evaluations

What it is: State Department of Education staff on Wednesday presented the State Board of Education with an outline and examples of how the process works for setting “student growth objectives,” which are agreed-upon measures that every teacher must use as part of their annual evaluations.

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NCAA power play may benefit Rutgers

By Mary Diduch, Chris, Iseman J.P. Pelzman, Staff Writers, The Record

As Rutgers University prepares to start its first season in the Big Ten athletic conference – one of the five largest conferences in college sports – the National Collegiate Athletic Association on Thursday overwhelmingly approved an overhaul of its governing structure, giving more power to those select schools.

The NCAA’s Division I board of directors, in a 16-2 vote, restructured how schools and conferences will be governed. The legislation also proposes changes that could pave the way for more money to be funneled into college sports and change how student-athletes are recruited and managed.

[...]

Some Rutgers faculty and staff questioned the apparent expansion of the power of college athletics departments, particularly as Rutgers’ faculty union has been critical of the university’s subsidizing of its athletics department — not unusual among Division I schools.

“We approach the NCAA’s decision, which claims to be in the best interests of athletes, with trepidation and a desire to learn more about its impact on student athletes, our budget and Rutgers’ academic mission,” Deepa Kumar, secretary of Rutgers’ faculty and staff union, Rutgers AAUP-AFT, said in an email.

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After the First Contract

By Colleen Flaherty

NEW YORK – How can adjunct unions keep their members engaged after their first contracts have been negotiated? And what’s next on various higher education unions’ agendas? Those and other questions were the focus of a session on adjunct organizing at the Coalition of Contingent Academic Labor conference, or COCAL, here Tuesday.

[...]

Donna Nebenzahl, adjunct professor of journalism at Concordia University in Montreal and part of its Part-Time Faculty Association, said adjuncts at her institution have made that leap and are reaping the benefits. Concordia adjuncts have strategically sought over time to “permeate” the university’s governance structure, and serve – with compensation – on committees of all kinds, including hiring committees. That visibility has bred respect from the administration, she said, which is demonstrated by contract wins such as a $240,000 professional development fund specifically for part-time faculty. The Concordia part-time faculty union is one of Quebec’s largest, with 1,000 members.

One adjunct professor of American languages from Rutgers University at Newark, Richard Gomes, said he was stunned by that figure, since he has trouble drumming up interest among his colleagues in a $25,000 professional development fund. Without sufficient interest, he said, there’s no way that fund will grow. Nebenzahl said her union promotes the fund through trice-yearly application periods and presentations from past recipients. Now, she said, even the university magazine regularly features part-time faculty research projects.

Alyssa Picard, assistant director of the American Federation of Teachers’ higher education department, said it’s also important for chapters to gauge their member outreach through hard metrics. That way, she said, the organizers have a sense of adjuncts’ level of engagement after bids are successful, when the tedium of actual negotiations sets in. The union represents about 70,000 part-time faculty members nationwide, many in units along with full-time and tenure-line faculty members.

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New Jersey has the best school systems in U.S., report says

By Alex Napoliello | NJ.com

As students get ready to head back to school, a published report finds that New Jersey has the best school systems in the United States.

The study, conducted by finance website Wallethub.com, analyzed 12 factors including student-teacher ratios, math and reading test scores, dropout rates and bullying incidents.

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Rutgers scholarship a milestone for immigrant activist

By Patricia Alex, Staff Writer, The Record

Governor Christie derided Giancarlo Tello and the group he was with as “professional protesters” at a recent town hall meeting, but officials at Rutgers University saw something else in the 24-year-old activist.

Tello was a leader in the successful fight to gain in-state tuition rates at New Jersey’s public colleges and universities for students like himself who are in the country illegally. And now he is getting his education paid for by Rutgers-Newark, which has awarded him a two-year scholarship worth at least $22,000 to return to his studies.

“Truly outstanding students should be supported at a public university,” said Peter T. Englot, senior vice chancellor at the Newark campus.

Englot said discussions were under way about tapping private donors for a scholarship fund at the state university in Newark to pay for more students who are ineligible for state and federal loans and grants because they are here illegally.

The scholarship marks a watershed moment for Tello, who has a waiver allowing him to remain in the country temporarily; his parents now have legal status and his younger sister, who was born here, is a citizen. But on a broader level, the move by Rutgers signals another foothold in the state for students who are in the country illegally and puts the state university on one side of a contentious issue that has divided the country.

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