Analysis: Partisan And Labor Politics Drive Battle Over Health-Benefits Reform

By Mark J. Magyar

Big question is whether Christie, Legislature set health-benefit payments or unions get back collective-bargaining rights

As Gov. Chris Christie’s Pension and Health Benefits Study Commission wrestles with the issue of how much public employees should pay toward their health insurance, New Jersey’s public-employee unions are focused not only on how much they will pay, but also on making sure they win back the right to collective bargaining on healthcare issues.…

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Newark Mayor Continues Push to Wrest Back Reins of City’s Schools

By John Mooney

Hosting weekend gathering of various stakeholders is part of broader political strategy addressing issue he doesn’t control

He has virtually no say over what happens in his city’s public schools, but Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has been talking a lot about education lately.

The latest example was the “Newark Community Education Convention” held over two days this weekend.…

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NJ Teacher Evaluations Are: a) Mostly a Success b) Still Need Work c) Both

By John Mooney

How was the first year of New Jersey’s new teacher evaluation system? Depends on whom you ask

There’s hardly consensus as to how well New Jersey’s teacher evaluation system worked in its first year — and no more agreement about how the second year will stack up.

The state Department of Education last week released a mostly positive report on the initial year of the system as dictated under the TEACHNJ tenure reform law, citing some challenges but praising the progress in meeting requirements for additional observations and goal setting for teachers.…

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Arbitrators Rule Against Newark’s Anderson in Two More Tenure Cases

By John Mooney

Superintendent taken to task for using two years of teacher evaluations when only one is allowed

It’s not quite a trend yet, but two more state-appointed arbitrators have sided with Newark teachers brought up on tenure charges by district superintendent Cami Anderson, claiming in both cases that her administration did not follow the proper process.…

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Kean University students question need for $219,000 conference table

By Katie Lannan, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

UNION — A high-tech, $219,000 conference table purchased by Kean University raised eyebrows on the school’s campus, where some students questioned whether the expense was warranted.

The 22-foot oak table was specially manufactured by a company in China, where Kean recently opened a campus, and serves as the centerpiece of a new conference center.…

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Kean University’s $219K multimedia conference table sparks criticism

By Erin O’Neill, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The head of the state Assembly’s higher education committee today rebuked Kean University for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a custom-made conference table with electronic equipment from a company in China, calling the purchase exorbitant and emblematic of misplaced priorities.

At the center of the criticism from Assemblywoman Celeste Riley (D-Cumberland) is a 22-foot oak multimedia conference table adorned with mosaic artwork and stainless steel decorations that has space for 23 people and the ability to conference in other people from more than two dozen places around the world.…

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Kean University’s $219,000 table the center of attention

By Patricia Alex, Staff Writer, The Record

It costs more than $44,000 in tuition to attend Kean University for four years, and many of the school’s students struggle to pay the bill.

But the taxpayer-supported school in the township of Union spent $219,000 so far and has authorized up to $270,000 — about the average price of a house in the nearby working-class neighborhood — for a custom-made, circular conference table that seats 23 and features data ports, microphones and an illuminated map of the world in a glass panel at its center.…

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Legislator calls for investigation into Kean University’s $219K conference table

By Patricia Alex, Staff Writer, The Record

Attendees recently sat around Kean University’s custom-made oak conference table.
A state legislator on Monday called for a probe into Kean University’s failure to get competitive bids for the purchase of a $219,000 conference table made in China.

Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, D-Union said he is drafting a letter to ask the Attorney General’s office to review Kean’s process in waiving the bidding for the table, which cost as much as ten times more than similar furniture purchased by other schools.…

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Time to rein in Kean University president Farahi: Editorial

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board

The president of Kean University recently purchased a $219,000 Chinese conference table to impress his pals, and just to prove he is determined to escort his career into a PR shredder, Dawood Farahi justified this expense with a derisive, “Why not?”

Actually, his response consisted of three “why-nots,” according to The Record’s account.…

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Analysis: NJ Public Employees Pay High Percentage of Healthcare Costs

By Mark J. Magyar

Under 2011 law, employee healthcare contribution are based on ‘ability to pay’ with sliding scale ranging from 3 percent to 35 percent of premium

Three-and-a-half years ago, the state Pension and Health Benefits Study Commission appointed by Gov. Chris Christie would have had an easy time arguing that public employees should pay more toward their healthcare, as Christie has asserted.…

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College boards need more professionalism, oversight

By Susanna Tardi

On Nov. 6, 2014, the National Commission on College and University Board Governance issued a report that was highly critical of higher education governing boards, finding they aren’t serious enough about oversight, “fail to add value to decision making,” are generally inattentive and out of touch, and have outdated policies and practices. The public’s erosion of faith in the value of higher education is testimony to the fact that boards have dropped the ball in dealing with the challenges facing higher education.…

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Teachers Add Critical Voice to State’s Newly Named Testing Commission

By John Mooney

While skeptics worry Christie appointees will rubber-stamp state policy, two named to panel express optimism that dissident voices will be heard

When Gov. Chris Christie finally appointed his long-promised commission to study New Jersey’s school-testing system, the appointees included two teachers who are hardly big fans of where the state is heading.

While they’re not hard-core dissidents, Freehold Township teacher Tracie Yostpille and Camden County Vocational District’s Matt Stagliano certainly come from the camp that believes New Jersey may be moving too far, too fast.…

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