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Join the Union

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 »


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 »


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 »


AFTNJ Activism

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

Newark educators and students call for community schools

Take Action for Pensions: Gov. Christie Broke His Promise

We are calling on Governor Chris Christie to work with legislative leadership to pay into the pension system—as his legislation requires—and  fund public services the state’s citizens need,” said AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera. “A balanced approach to budgeting means asking millionaires and corporations to pay their fair share while investing in programs and services that will benefit all New Jersey now and in the future. People depend on the strength of our schools, hospitals, environment and the economy so we need our leaders to cooperate and collaborate—not bully and blame.”

“Gov. Christie has broken the public trust,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Three years ago, he struck a deal with the Legislature that was premised on shared sacrifice. And teachers, firefighters and nurses made that sacrifice. They paid their share. But Christie is refusing to pay his, and now these workers’ dignity and security in retirement hangs in the balance. That’s why they’re in court—because a real leader doesn’t go back on his word, especially when the livelihoods of so many hardworking Americans are at stake.”

Call Chris Christie today at 609-292-6000 or click here, and tell him hardworking New Jerseyans are doing their part… …keeping their promises… And it’s time for him to keep his.

Mediation the next step after teachers’ contract talks stall in Garfield

By Kristie Cattafi, Staff Writer, Community News (Garfield Edition)

The Garfield Federation of Teachers (GFT) group is at an impasse and will now seek mediation after working without a contract for a year.

The contract expired on June 30, 2014. The largest impact without a contract due to the laws in New Jersey is not getting a raise, Garfield Federation of Teachers Local 3977 President Rob Barbier explained. He said on Jan. 1 the health insurance rate went up and they had to contribute more money without any salary increase.

Despite productive negotiations between the Garfield Board of Education and the Garfield Federation of Teachers the state monitor for the district, Angelo DeSimone, rejected a proposed deal acceptable to both parties, Barbier said.


Stockton University acting president to continue leadership, officials say

By Brittany M. Wehner, For
Harvey Kesselman (Submitted Photo | For M. Wehner | For

GALLOWAY TWP. — Dr. Harvey Kesselman will remain Stockton University’s acting president, officials confirmed Wednesday morning.Kesselman will also withdraw as president of the University of Southern Maine and continue as Stockton’s acting president at the request of the school’s Board of Trustees, a press release stated.


Testimony: Call for a Moratorium on the Consequences of High Stakes Testing

Donna M. Chiera Senate Education testimony, May 18

Donna M. Chiera Senate Education testimony, May 18

Parents, students, community members and educators continue to stand up against the trend of standardized testing increasingly driving education policies and practices. They are rejecting the concept of the disastrous “shame, blame, test and punish” accountability system that is dismantling the teaching and learning process. Disbelief and outrage was expressed when it was learned publishing companies are “spying” on students without any prior notification to the school systems, parents or students. We have witnessed an increase in parents protesting the number of hours schools spend on test prepping and test taking rather than teaching. This movement has grown as more required assessments and district level benchmarks have been implemented.


Teacher, attacked by pupil, regains job in tenure fight

By Bill Wichert, NJ Advance Media for

NEWARK — Less than three months into his job as a health and physical education teacher in Newark, Peter Kowalsky was severely beaten by a student in November 2005, causing him to remain on medical leave for roughly four school years.

After then working during three school years, the city’s school district fired Kowalsky in August 2012 for budgetary reasons, saying he had not attained tenure status.

But in a recent decision, a state appeals court found Kowalsky was a tenured teacher and ruled he must be reinstated to his position, along with back pay and other benefits owed to him.

“It was just another act of trying to reduce the budget at the cost of an excellent employee,” said Kowalsky’s attorney, Eugene Liss, adding that the “Appellate Division…was on the money.”


Before investing billions in community colleges, high school students need to be better prepared for higher education

By Bill Mesce Jr.

In her piece explaining Essex County College’s first tuition increase in five years, Essex County College president Gale Gibson notes enrollment at the college rose 21 percent in the first two years after the Great Recession as young people looked to make themselves more job competitive in a sluggish economy. If President Obama manages to carry through with his American Graduation Initiative providing a free education to community college students, ECC’s enrollment is sure to jump even further. The current national enrollment for community colleges is already at six million and rising. But despite the noble intent of the AGI, and before we make a multi-billion dollar wager at sending millions of young people into the community college system, it’s worth examining the current gap between the equally noble ambition of community colleges and outcomes.


With Guadagno at RVCC graduation, a subtle protest against Christie’s education policies

By Louis C. Hochman | NJ Advance Media for

BRANCHBURG — Earlier this week, the Raritan Valley Community College Federation wanted to get Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s attention.

support public education and workers

Faculty members and some students wore stickers encouraging support for public education at the Raritan Valley Community College commencement on May 16, 2015. The stickers were meant to urge Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and the Christie administration to revisit policies on education funding. Louis C. Hochman | NJ Advance Media for

With the lieutenant governor slated to speak at the college’s commencement ceremony, the federation wrote Guadagno an open letter, criticizing Gov. Chris Christie’s policies — saying public education had been shortchanged, and imploring Guadagno to use her appearance to address why.


Another cold slap in the wallet: Fewer NJ families will find college affordable | Editorial

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board

New Jersey Policy Perspective, the prolific think tank, has provided another grim reminder about how middle class families are squeezed in their endeavor to educate their kids, and the numbers are jarring.

The latest analysis shows that state support for four-year publics has dropped 22 percent since 2008 (or $2,150 per student), while the average tuition has risen 14 percent (or $1,611 per student).

And all this is happening while the average wage has fallen by 7.3 percent.

Indeed, disinvestment is the national rage, but Gov. Christie claimed that his 2016 budget calls for the same higher education funding as 2015. But 2.6 percent of that will shift from the operating budget into fringe benefits, just to plug a pension hole. In other words, our publics will actually share a $38 million haircut.


Altered acceptance rates: Ramapo among 3 N.J. colleges boosting prestige with inflated applicant pool

By Patricia Alex, staff writer, The Record

Some of New Jersey’s public colleges and universities are making themselves appear more selective — and more attractive to prospective students — by skirting national standards when reporting data to the federal government and ratings organizations, The Record has found.

Ramapo College and Kean and Rowan universities include both complete and incomplete applications in the numbers they report, bloating the stated applicant pool by hundreds. Inflating the numbers to include students who leave out essential items like test scores or grades allows these schools to appear to be rejecting a substantially higher percentage of students.

A lower acceptance rate provides a reputation boost in the prestige-fueled world of college admissions.

In New Jersey, officials from the three schools acknowledge that incomplete applications are included in the totals they report to the federal government, U.S. News and World Report and other rating organizations and publications. This practice violates state and federal requirements that only completed applications be included, and makes it difficult to compare schools where some play by the rules and others do not.

At Kean, merely starting an online application makes a student part of the admissions pool. At Rowan and Ramapo, prospective applicants are reported in the schools’ totals as long as they’ve paid an application fee, regardless of other missing credentials such as test scores or transcripts that are needed to make an admissions decision, the officials said.


Higher education funding in N.J. is way down, while tuition is way up, report finds

By Adam Clark, NJ Advance Media for

TRENTON — New Jersey’s “lackluster” financial support of its colleges and universities has led to increased tuition, ballooning student debt and erosion in the quality of higher education, according to a new report.

The state’s higher education funding has dropped by more 22 percent since 2008 when adjusted for inflation, a decrease of more than $2,150 per student, according to an analysis by New Jersey Policy Perspective, a Trenton-based public policy research group.

Meanwhile, average four-year tuition costs in New Jersey grew by 23.7 percent between 2004 and 2013 while the average family income fell by 7.3 percent with inflation factored into both calculations.

As a result, average student debt for New Jersey students rose by 40.5 percent when adjusted for inflation, the report said.

New Jersey Policy Perspective President Gordon MacInnes urged the state to change course for the sake of New Jersey’s working families and the state’s economic future.

“For most, the American Dream includes putting your kids through college,” MacInnes said. “But New Jersey’s lack of investment in higher education makes achieving the dream far more difficult.

Gov. Chris Christie’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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