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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 »

Benefits ‘evident’ in Jersey City paid sick time law, Rutgers study finds

By Terrence T. McDonald, The Jersey Journal

JERSEY CITY – The vast majority of city businesses are reporting no problems adhering to the city’s paid sick leave mandate, while a third are reporting increases in productivity and the quality of new hires and a reduction in employee turnover, according to a new study from Rutgers.

The 20-page report from Rutgers’ Center for Women and Work polled 289 city businesses and 198 employees about the mandate, which requires that most businesses provide paid sick leave to their workers, and found 80 percent of businesses are now providing paid sick leave. Sixty-two percent did not have to change their policies as a result of the new law, according to the study.

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Anderson Tries Again to Base Layoffs on Performance First, Then Seniority

Newark superintendent’s request for a waiver from state statutes fell on deaf ears last year – and that appears likely to again

By John Mooney

Cami Anderson. Credit: WNYC.org
Superintendent Cami Anderson

It was a long shot then, and it’s a long shot now.

Newark schools Superintendent Cami Anderson has for the second year asked the Christie administration for a waiver – technically called an “equivalency” – from state regulations that require teachers be laid off based solely on seniority.

The request is a central part of her 2015-16 budget proposal, which Anderson’s staff said could include layoffs of as many as 300 teachers.

But little has changed from last year, when Anderson submitted the very same application verbatim.

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NJ State Retiree Prescription Copays Reduced

The State Health Benefits Design Committee reached an agreement that copays will be reduced or eliminated depending on the classification of the drug and the type of plan in which the member is enrolled for the period from July 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015 and will return to 2012 rates as a baseline for negotiating new plans for 2016. The committee, which is made up of representatives of both labor and management, successfully sued to challenge increases imposed by the State. AFTNJ joined the suit.

For the period from July 1, 2015 through December 31, 2105 copays for $10 and $15 copay plans will be:

Tier Retail Mail (3 Months)
Generic $0 $0
Name Brand $3 $3
Non Preferred $11 $11

For the $10 HMO Plans:

Tier Retail Mail (3 Months)
Generic $1 $1
Name Brand $6 $6
Non Preferred $17 $17

The maximum out of pocket will be $1,351 per person which is the 2012 rate will apply for 2015.

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As Newark school budget calls for layoffs, union fights back

By Naomi Nix | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEWARK — A top union official criticized today a proposal from Newark Public Schools to base any teacher layoffs it makes for the next school year on performance instead of seniority alone.

“The proposal is just another scam in getting what she really wants: the destruction of tenure, seniority and collective bargaining,” Newark Teachers Union’s operations director John Abeigon said referring to Newark Schools Superintendent Cami Anderson.

“Every successful district in the state of New Jersey has tenure, seniority and a collective bargaining agreement. So what’s her excuse for failure?”

Faced with mounting bills from charter schools, Newark Public Schools will seek to save money by shedding some of its staff, district officials said Thursday.

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Newark School Budget Not as Explosive, But Fireworks Still Appear Likely

No school closings planned, but hundreds of teacher and administrative layoffs seem likely under $990M spending plan

By John Mooney

One year after a controversial reorganization of Newark’s public schools, Superintendent Cami Anderson’s budget for the next school year calls for no further school closings or consolidations, at least for now.

But don’t expect smooth sailing ahead. As enrollment declines and charter schools grow in the state-run district, the $990 million budget presented last night will surely mean scores – if not hundreds — of staff reductions, both in the classroom and in the central office, officials said.

And reviving a debate from a year ago, Anderson is again going to ask the state for a waiver allowing the district to reduce teaching staff based, in part, on performance — not based on seniority alone, which is required under statute.

[...]

But the next battle will likely be with the unions, as they face the prospect of significant layoffs. The secretary of the Newark Teachers Union, Michael Dixon, sat in the audience and did not speak publicly.

But afterward, he said the union would surely fight Anderson’s plans, both the layoffs and the waiver request, calling the moves “union-busting.”

“It’s crazy that she is putting (the waiver request) up there again,” said Michael Dixon, the NTU’s secretary-treasurer. “It goes to show she doesn’t care about the district. They’re the deciders, and she’ll do what she wants to do.”

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PARCC: In unanimous vote, N.J. Assembly says schools should accommodate opt outs

Adam Clark, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

TRENTON — Students who don’t want to take the PARCC exams should be able to attend regular classes or work on other school activities during testing, according to New Jersey’s Assembly.

A bill (A4165) requiring schools to accommodate students refusing the state’s standardized tests passed the Assembly 72-0 this afternoon. Before becoming law, the proposal requires approval from the state Senate — which has yet to act on any PARCC legislation passed by the Assembly — and Gov. Chris Christie.

The bill directs schools to provide students refusing the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exams with an ungraded alternative activity or to allow those students to engage in supervised reading or other self directed work.

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Fine Print: New Charter School Study Praises NJ Gains, Draws NJ fire

Stanford researchers find significant gains for New Jersey urban charters over district schools

By John Mooney

[...]

The quote: “Charters undersubscribe the poorest students and oversubscribe the less poor, but CREDO treats those kids as matched anyway,” wrote Bruce Baker, a Rutgers University professor who has been among the most prolific critics. “Charters undersubscribe high-need special-education kids and oversubscribe mild learning disabilities, but CREDO treats those kids as matched. This creates a severe bias in favor of charters in Newark and in many other cities with similar sorting patterns and high average-poverty rates,” he said.

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Fundraising to save Mater Dei reaches $1 million goal

It seemed like a distant, almost impossible goal at the time: raise $1 million in two months to keep Mater Dei Prep open.

Supporters of the beloved Catholic high school did it with a couple of weeks to spare.

Officers of the The Seraph’s Fund, a 501(c)3 organization spearheading the effort, announced Thursday morning that they had reached $1 million in binding pledges.

“A major victory for the future of Mater Dei Prep,” Save the Seraphs campaign chair Jim Shaw said. “”We believe this moves us beyond financial stability for next year and allows us to continue the cycle of fundraising to ensure long-term sustainability.”

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Is Christie Administration Shifting to Charter School Expansions vs. New Openings?

While only one new charter application won approval, complete policy picture is more complex

By John Mooney

When the Christie administration approved just one new charter school application last week, questions arose over whether it was backing off from its previous enthusiastic support for the growth of the charter movement in the state.

A separate move to place seven other charters on probation and close two more existing schools reinforced that notion.

But it has turned more of a mixed picture, as the state on Friday announced it would approve expansion of four charter schools, including a controversial Hebrew-language school in East Brunswick.

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Student Privacy Debate Dominates Assembly Panel’s Meeting On PARCC Tests

Lawmakers, education officials at loggerheads over monitoring of student postings on social media

By John Mooney

Student privacy issues have suddenly moved to the forefront of the debate over the state’s controversial new PARCC tests, as state legislators yesterday grappled with how to protect students and their personal information.

The Assembly education committee meeting wasn’t expected to be an extraordinary one. The committee’s agenda included two PARCC-related bills that were expected to pass easily — one setting a statewide policy for families refusing to have their children take the tests, and the second creating a task force to study the effectiveness of PARCC. Both passed unanimously and move next to the full Assembly, where passage is also likely before more-uncertain prospects in the Senate.

But the meeting took an unexpected turn when two typically low-profile officials in the state Department of Education testified, at the committee’s request, about the roiling controversy over the test security practices by Pearson, the testing giant administering the PARCC test in New Jersey and 10 other states.

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