AFT, other unions attend rally in Trenton opposing planned increases to health insurance

AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera joined AFT members from around the state Sept. 13 for a mass union rally in Trenton opposing proposed increases to health care costs for public employees.

Among the speakers during the hour-plus event outside the New Jersey State House Annex was HPAE Local 5089 President Banita Herndon, who led a chant of “All day, all night / health care is a human right.”…

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Murphy signs bills to reduce N.J. students’ food insecurities

Gov. Phil Murphy on Sept. 9 signed two bills that address food-insecurity issues for New Jersey students.

A2368 requires schools to provide free breakfasts and lunches to students from working-class, middle-income families, while A2365 requires the development of promotional materials for educating parents and guardians about existing and expanding school meal program options. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate Majority Leader M.…

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Kamenetz sees ‘chance for recovery’ during 2022-23 school year

In an interview about her new book, “The Stolen Year: How COVID Changed Children’s Lives, and Where We Go Now,” education reporter Anya Kamenetz says she thinks it’s possible for 2022-23 to be the first post-COVID year.

“But in order for that to happen, we need to be clear-eyed about what has already happened,” she tells The 74’s Kevin Mahnken.…

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Virtual forum will address strain on college students’ mental health

Join Chronicle of Higher Education staff reporter Kate Hidalgo Bellows and others Sept. 7 for the virtual forum “Trends in College Students’ Mental Health.”

Topics will include the looming effects of COVID-19 on the mental health crisis and the future of mental health services on campus.

The session begins at 2 p.m. ET on Sept. 7.…

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School climates are key to students reporting potential threats

Having strong relationships between school personnel and students “are essential to building trust and robust reporting cultures” when it comes to disclosing potential threats in K-12 schools, a RAND Corp. study reveals.

Among the recommendations in “Supporting Individual Willingness to Report School Safety Concerns”:

  • Increase opportunities for teachers and staff to interact informally with groups of students outside the classroom, and ensure that security personnel receive training to help them work and communicate effectively with the school community.
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Murphy earmarks $6.5M in ARP funds for school safety initiative

Gov. Phil Murphy on Aug. 30 revealed details to use $6.5 million in remaining American Rescue Plan funds to outfit about 1,500 school buildings around New Jersey with mapping technology that can assist first responders during emergencies.

“An important part of school safety is ensuring that first responders have the tools they need to answer any emergency of any size and at any time,” Murphy said from East Brook Middle School in Paramus.…

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Goal of Hawkins program is to diversify teacher workforce

The U.S. Department of Education on Aug. 19 revealed an $8 million grant competition meant to increase the diversity of the teacher workforce.

The Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence program will support comprehensive, high-quality teacher preparation programs at historically black colleges and universities, minority-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities, per a U.S. DOE press release.…

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N.J.’s tax-free period for back-to-school supplies begins Aug. 27

As per Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement in late June, New Jersey’s tax-free period for back-to-school supplies starts Aug. 27.

Pens, notebooks, computers, sports equipment and bicycle helmets are among the items that can be purchased in person or online starting that day and through Sept. 5 sans the state’s sales tax.

On a related note, teachers and other educators will be able to deduct up to $300 of their out-of-pocket classroom expenses for 2022 when they file their federal income tax returns next year.…

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AFTNJ 2022 Leadership Conference recap

Under the theme Stronger Unions, Stronger Voices, AFTNJ local presidents and members of their leadership teams gathered Aug. 17 in East Brunswick for this year’s leadership conference to expand their knowledge of union-related procedures and actions.

Following introductory remarks by AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera, attendees were presented with a series of workshops led by AFT national personnel.…

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Report: Educators dealt with job stress, harassment over politicized issues

About 40 percent of K-12 public teachers “reported that the intrusion of political issues and opinions into their professions was a job-related stressor,” according to the recent Rand Corp. report “Walking a Fine Line — Educators’ Views on Politicized Topics in Schooling.”

Among the report’s other key findings:

• 54 percent of K-12 educators surveyed “believed that there should not be legal limits on classroom conversations about racism and other contentious topics.”…

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