GoFundMe is an online fundraising site usually reserved for people with steep medical expenses or charitable causes, but now it’s the home of an effort by the Newark Teachers Union to “stop the war on teachers ."
The union of about 3,000 members has a goal of $100,000 for its campaign, but after the first four days it has raised zero. The union claims this unique project is necessary because “we don’t have access to the same funding sources as those who want to destroy our public schools.”
That might be literally true, but NTU has an annual budget of about $3.4 million and is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, a parent organization whose budget is $188 million. The idea that it requires a GoFundMe campaign for $100,000 is laughable.
It’s possible this is merely a PR stunt to rouse the zeal of activists in the state, or perhaps AFT refused to fund this particular scheme. But if you have a few extra bucks, I suggest you bypass NTU’s page and instead donate to Bonnie’s bullet removal surgery .If you go to NTU's GoFundMe page (still at zero dollars raised), you can read union leaders' rationalization for why you should send them your cash: "We need to fight back, but we don’t have access to the same funding sources as those who want to destroy our public schools. If you’re mad as hell and want to help us launch a real campaign to make sure Newark students, their educators, their families and communities have the strong, well-resourced neighborhood public schools they need to thrive, then consider donating whatever you can to our struggle."
Should we mention that the top 283 NTU teachers just received $1.7 million in merit pay bonuses? Maybe they'll donate to NTU. Or maybe not.
Newark parents are increasingly opting for scarce seats in the city's expanding charter school sector. During last April's school board election, the top vote-getter was Kim Gaddy who was elected by a newly-empowered pro-charter constituency. Some members of tihisconstituency are NTU members. For example, Erica Fortenberry, a 17-year Newark Public Schools employee describes here why she chose a charter school for her son:
As a district teacher, I have seen firsthand unbelievable bureaucratic waste. For years, the lack of consistent educational guidelines from the district offices, have caused conflicts in teaching and learning. Each change brings costly rounds of education materials, trainings, and curriculum development.
Our current superintendent [Chris Cerf] is the first person I can remember who has made real progress fixing this issue, but Newark still receives over a billion dollars a year from the state. And yet, as a teacher I do not see the funding reaching our students.
It is frustrating as a teacher in Newark and an alum of the Newark public school system to see first-hand what is happening in Newark. But as a mother, it is terrifying.
This is why I am also one of the thousands of Newark's parents who have chosen to send my child to a Newark public charter school. My son is 13 years old and attends Link Community Charter School.I don't doubt that NTU leaders are "mad as hell," but their anger -- which sounds more like fear -- is misdirected. Perhaps they might consider abandoning their hapless quest to preserve status quo schooling that has failed Newark students for decades and, instead, look to the future. Newark's public school landscape is transforming into a diversified educational landscape, a collaborative endeavor among traditional schools and independent schools that are unified by a commitment to best serve students. Now that's a cause worth rallying for.