AFT extends Reading Opens the World campaign

Having exceeded 1 million books distributed in 2022 as part of its Reading Opens the World initiative, the AFT on Dec. 10 said it plans to distribute another million books in 2023.

“Reading is foundational,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten in a press release. “It is necessary for virtually everything we do—and for experiencing the joy of a great book.…

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U.S. DOE begins initiative to enhance STEM

The U.S. Department of Education on Dec. 7 launched the Raise the Bar: STEM Excellence for All Students Initiative. According to the U.S. DOE, the initiative is meant to “help implement and scale equitable, high-quality STEM education for all students from PreK to higher education — regardless of background.”

“Research shows how a sense of belonging in rich and rigorous classrooms is directly correlated to students’ long-term academic success,” said U.S.…

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Solidarity aplenty in New Brunswick as Rutgers unions rally for fair contracts

Undeterred by the steady rain, Rutgers University faculty, staff and students gathered Dec. 6 in New Brunswick for an outdoor rally to support Rutgers unions in their quests for fair contracts.

The Hub City rally, one of three held around the same time at the other main Rutgers campuses, began at Voorhees Mall. Among the speakers there was Rutgers AAUP-AFT member Todd Vachon, director of Rutgers LEARN and an AFTNJ higher education vice president.…

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AFT task force issues report on health worker shortage

The AFT Healthcare Staffing Shortage Task Force recently issued a report as part of the union’s ongoing effort “to improve our nation’s healthcare system and the working conditions our members endure,” as stated in the report’s introduction.

Among the components of the staffing shortage examined in the report are unsafe working conditions, inadequate compensation for frontline workers and insufficient worker voice and trust.…

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Arbitrator rules in favor of NTU in COVID quarantine grievance

The Newark Teachers Union (Local 481) scored a major victory Nov. 23 when arbitrator Robert C. Gifford ruled that Newark Public Schools must repay NTU members what the union estimates is about $1 million in salary and restore sick days with regard to COVID-related absences.

The case started on Oct. 13, 2021, when the NTU filed a grievance alleging that starting Jan.…

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U.S. DOE seeks public comment on Stronger Connections FAQs

Through Dec. 19, the U.S. Department of Education is seeking public comment on the draft FAQs related to the Stronger Connections grant program, which is part of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

Stronger Connections recognizes “that local evidence-based school safety and climate plans, along with other evidence-based strategies for creating safe, healthy and supportive schools, depend on meaningful engagement between school and LEA leaders and students, parents, families and community members, and strong relationships between students and adults,” reads the introduction to the draft.…

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Paradiso, Pereira join task force addressing N.J. teacher shortage

Perth Amboy Federation President Pat Paradiso and Newark Teachers Union member Silvia Pereira will be the AFT representatives on the task force Gov. Phil Murphy established via executive order to address the teacher and support staff shortage in New Jersey’s public schools.

“AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera recommended me for the task force, but I would have asked to be part of it had she not,” says Paradiso (above left), who is AFTNJ’s PreK-12 executive vice president.…

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Murphy establishes teacher shortage task force

Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed Executive Order No. 309, which establishes a task force to address the shortage of K-12 teachers and education support professionals in New Jersey.

Dennis Zeveloff, Murphy’s chief policy adviser, has been named the chair of the task force, which will include two AFT members.

According to EO 309, all public members of the task force “shall serve without compensation,” and they will “organize as soon as practicable after the appointment of its members, and shall convene as often as practicable and as requested” by Murphy or Zeveloff.…

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