Murphy signs Community College Opportunity Grant Program into state law

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Feb. 26 signed the Community College Opportunity Grant Program into state law during an appearance at Hudson County Community College in Jersey City.

Prior to the signing, Murphy acknowledged that New Jersey’s 18 community colleges play “a vital role” in the educational lives of many residents “but also in our economic future.”…

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O’Connell: Rutgers’ priorities need realignment

The Coalition of Rutgers Unions held a virtual press conference Feb. 25 to discuss recent and anticipated layoffs and cutbacks throughout Rutgers University.

Among the participants was Rutgers URA-AFT (Local 1766) President Christine O’Connell, who addressed the situation of high-paying administration positions being filled during a hiring freeze.

“I think it’s a question of priorities,” O’Connell said.…

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Early registration savings for Building Expertise conference ends Feb. 28

Actor LeVar Burton, host of the PBS series “Reading Rainbow,” is among the scheduled keynote speakers for this year’s Building Expertise Educators Conference, taking place virtually from June 23-25.

Presented by Learning Sciences International, this event offers “a proactive plan to increase student engagement, address reluctant learners and meet the social-emotional needs of students as more of them return to brick and mortar next school year,” according to LSI.…

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Murphy touts budget investment in N.J.’s schools

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy visited Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Fair Lawn on Feb. 25 to highlight the roughly $700 million he set aside for public schools in his fiscal year 2022 budget.

“There are many historic investments that we will make in the coming year,” he said, adding that a strong education “is the foundation for everything we seek to achieve.”…

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CDC, WHO differ on minimum social distancing

As schools nationwide work toward reopening for in-person instruction, there is now a significant disparity in health organizations’ recommendations for minimum social distancing.

The most recent update on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website about social distancing is dated Nov. 17, and it says the following: “To practice social or physical distancing, stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from other people who are not from your household in both indoor and outdoor spaces.”…

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Chiera testifies in support of A4680

AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera testified during the virtual New Jersey Assembly Labor Committee Meeting on Feb. 24 in support of A4680, which pertains to subcontracting agreements entered into by four-year public institutions of higher education.

“Before I begin with the specifics, I want to remind you that this legislation was the same legislation you recently passed and was signed by the governor giving limited protections to preK schools and community colleges around subcontracting,” Chiera said.…

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Abeigon: Testing Newark students for COVID-19 should be a ‘prerequisite’

John M. Abeigon, president of the Newark Teachers Union (Local 481), is pushing for all middle school and high school students in his district to be tested for COVID-19 when in-person learning resumes in April.

“We believe it’s a prerequisite,” Abeigon said in a story by Chalkbeat Newark’s Patrick Wall. “Our concern is asymptomatic kids giving it to each other and bringing the virus home.”…

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Professors explore racial segregation in special education

Black kindergartners are 3.4 percentage points less likely to be identified for special education than similar white students, according to calculations by four professors writing for Education Next.

“Black and Hispanic students are placed in special education more often than their peers when they are in majority-white schools,” write Todd E. Elder, David Figlio, Scott Imberman and Claudia Persico.…

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Murphy’s fiscal year 2022 budget ‘invests in America’s best public school system’

As part of a fiscal year 2022 budget that he says “invests in America’s best public school system,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has earmarked millions to support public schools as well as expand higher education.

In his prerecorded budget address that aired Feb. 23, Murphy also spoke about “getting our pension system back to safe ground.”…

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Webinar explores AFT’s new trauma-counseling program

Learn about the new AFT trauma-counseling program, introduced this year, during a Feb. 25 webinar with AFT President Randi Weingarten and others.

Find out how to access the program, the nature of covered incidents and how the program’s counseling differs from traditional counseling or therapy.

The webinar begins at 4 p.m. ET on Feb. 25. To register, click here.…

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Biden administration OK’s delays of standardized state testing

States will not be allowed to cancel standardized testing for the 2020-21 school year, the Biden administration said Feb. 22. Instead, they will be permitted to delay the tests until the summer or fall.

AFT President Randi Weingarten was among those who wanted the tests canceled.

“As the educators in the classroom, we have always known that standardized tests are not the best way to measure a child’s development, nor do they particularly help kids or inform best practices for teaching and learning,” she said in a statement.…

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Weingarten finds positives in safety strategies used by NYC schools, NFL

Asked by “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd on Feb. 21 if a model district exists in terms of how to safely reopen schools across the country, AFT President Randi Weingarten looked to one in her home state.

“I mean, there’s no perfect solution but, frankly, I think that New York City has done a pretty good job in terms of showing the way,” she said.…

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