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6-18-13 Education Issues in the News
NJ Newsroom – NJ Schools to Suffer with Federal Aid

NJEA Goes Inside for Next Executive Director…Edward Richardson, new top staffer at teachers union, moves up from human resources to assume chief post

Star Ledger - N.J. lawmakers advance bill granting in-state tuition for students in country illegally

NJ Newsroom – NJ Schools to Suffer with Federal Aid


BY REBECCA SHEEHAN Monday, June 17 2013 19:43

State Education Commissioner Chris Cerf recently addressed in a hearing that New Jersey public schools will soon be facing federal aid cuts nearing upwards of $41 million being cut for low-income and special-needs students.

According to Cerf the state would try to buffer some of the federal cutbacks in the coming year with funds carried over from previous years, with the cuts amounting to about 5 percent of the $833 million that Garden State schools receive in aid from the federal government.

“The sequestration is going to cause real pain to those in New Jersey,” said Cerf in a NJ Spotlight article near the close of the three-hour hearing. Cerf is not trying to hide the fact that this cut will indeed hurt the state’s schools. “We can see our way to surviving next year through using some (leftover) funds, but to the extent the federal crisis is not resolved, there will continue to be real pressure financially.”

Although the details of the cuts have not been released, but in a recent breakdown of the state’s data showed large districts will be hit especially hard in just that account. IDEA funding represents more than one-third of federal funding to schools, with the other large piece coming in Title I funds for low-income students.

Looking at the big picture, is slated to lose more than $810,000 in federal IDEA aid, while will lose more than $780,000. Suburban districts would be affected just the same with Edison, Hamilton and Toms River each suffering losses of more than $200,000.


By John Mooney, June 18, 2013 in Education |

The New Jersey Education Association, the state’s presiding teachers union, has selected an organization insider to be its next executive director.

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The 200,000-member organization yesterday announced its executive committee had picked Edward Richardson, its human resources director the past eight years and staff member for almost 20, to succeed Vincent Giordano in the top staff position.

Giordano, who has more than 40 years with the union, is leaving the post after seven years in December.

Richardson brings to the influential job both experience both from inside and from the state Department of Education, where he was a lobbyist and policy advisor under the administrations of Gov. Thomas Kean Sr. and Gov. James Florio.

He joined the NJEA’s communications office in 1994 and then moved up to human resources manager in 2005.

In an interview yesterday, Richardson said he would be focused on all assets of the organization since the union is at a critical period of change in local, state, and federal education policy.

“I think we need to be very forward leaning in the policy making that is going on,” Richardson said. “Our members want to be heard, and they expect us to be both their educational and professional advocates.”

“Ed Richardson brings an impressive and diverse set of skills to this demanding position,” Giordano said in the press release announcing the selection. “NJEA members know he will work closely with our elected leaders and staff to represent them well, and to advocate for their interests in a time of great change in public education.

While Giordano came from the collective bargaining side of the union, Richardson brings more of an organizational background, with a focus on staffing and budgets.

“Things are strong. We need to keeping looking into the future to stay that way," Richardson said, "but financially [for the union], things are very strong.”

The union has about 265 staff, and its roughly 200,000 members represents a slight dip from a peak of 203,000 before the recession, he said.

Richardson said he did not expect big staff changes when he takes office, other than his current post and also that of assistant executive director, Richard Gray, who is also retiring. Richardson said high-profile staff like Ginger Gold Schnitzer, the union’s chief lobbyist, would remain.

“I don’t expect any of [the top management team] leaving,” he said. “Gosh, I hope not.”

In addition to the staff changes, the union’s elected leadership is also turning over this year, with vice president Wendell Steinhauer moving up to president in July. He replaces Barbara Keshishian, who reached her two-term limit.

Star Ledger - N.J. lawmakers advance bill granting in-state tuition for students in country illegally

 By Kelly Heyboer The Star-Ledger
r on June 17, 2013 at 5:21 PM, updated June 18, 2013 at 6:22 AM

TRENTON — As Congress debates an overhaul to the federal immigration system, New Jersey lawmakers again took up controversial legislation today that would allow students living in the country illegally to pay in-state tuition at the state’s public colleges.

The bill, dubbed the “Tuition Equality Act,” was approved by the state Assembly Budget Committee after a lengthy hearing in Trenton. The crowd in the chamber, which included immigrant students who have been pushing for the change for years, cheered as the committee moved the bill.

The legislation will now go to the full Assembly for a vote. Similar bills have died in Trenton in recent years. But supporters hope the movement in Washington, D.C., to pass immigration reform will help push New Jersey to make college more affordable for students who entered the country illegally.

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), one of the bill’s sponsors, said students brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents deserve the same chance to attend college as their American-born classmates.

“These students deserve any break any student should have in this state,” Johnson said. “It is not their fault their parents brought them here. They were raised here.”

Under the current system, students who entered the U.S. illegally can attend public K-12 schools and apply to New Jersey colleges. However, they are charged out-of-state college tuition if they can not produce documentation that they live in New Jersey legally.

That means students without legal immigration status often pay double the tuition of their classmates and are not eligible for federal and state financial aid programs. At Rutgers University, for example, in-state undergraduates paid $13,073 in annual tuition and fees last year while out-of-state students paid $26,393.

Students who have been granted deferred action, a temporary legal status, under a new program introduced by President Obama last year, also must pay out-of-state tuition in New Jersey.

Immigration reform advocates say the current system makes college unaffordable for most students living in the country illegally. Several students gave emotional testimony at the hearing detailing their struggles to pay tuition.

“Every semester I go with the uncertainty of whether I can continue my education or not,” said Renata Mauriz, who was brought to the U.S. illegally by her family eight years ago and currently attends County College of Morris.

Mauriz said there are about 40 undocumented students at her school now. She recently authored a study that found about 750 additional Morris County students could attend the county college if they were charged the same in-county tuition as legal residents.

If approved, the new legislation (A-4225) would allow students living in the U.S. illegally to pay in-state tuition if they attended a New Jersey high school for at least three years and earned a diploma. The students would also be required to file an affidavit saying they have filed or will file an application to legalize their immigration status.

Several lawmakers questioned whether the bill would encourage illegal immigration and take away spots at four-year colleges that could have gone to legal residents. They also questioned whether colleges would be able to enforce the provision requiring students to file for legal immigration status.

Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris) said he found it unfair a U.S. citizen in Pennsylvania would be charged more to attend a New Jersey college than a student who entered the country illegally.

“That to me doesn’t seem right,” said Webber, who voted against the bill.

The Assembly Budget Committee also approved a second bill (A-3162), called the “Higher Education Citizenship Equality Act,” designed to make it easier for American-born students to pay in-state tuition and apply for financial aid even if their parents are living in the U.S. illegally.


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608