Abeigon’s Lucrative Way of Doing Things is Coming to an End

Let’s face it. It is easy to be critical of the Newark Teacher Union (NTU) President John Abeigon. Time and time again he has been on the wrong side of the issue when it comes to education in Newark.

My sources in the NTU have stressed to me that Mr. Abeigon’s actions, temperament and priorities normally do not even match the desires of his own union members. He was elected as President by a small margin and if you are ever in receipt of one of his mass emails or listen to his SAB speeches, you are often left scratching your head trying to understand what he is even trying to say.

As a result of all of this Abeigon has far more detractors, than supporters in Newark.

As head of the NTU, Mr. Abeigon’s first and only job is to represent the interests of his union, not our kids.

Nowhere is this more recently evident than in Mr. Abeigon’s reaction to our District’s priority to address waste and unneeded bureaucracy.

Last week Dan Ivers in NJ.com outlined how the Newark District Schools are looking to close its budget deficit with $65 million in cuts to its Central Office.

Over the last seven months, Superintendent Cerf and his team have implemented a strategy to finally begin addressing the waste we have grown accustomed to in our school district. What we are seeing is that decisions and the right priorities are finally being addressed that moves NPS in the right direction.

The reason this is important is not only because of our current budget mess, but because it is a huge shift compared to how the school district has done things in the past.

Previously, when the district office needed to make tough choices, kids were the first to suffer.

Instead, the District has found ways to make needed budget cuts without teachers losing their jobs, and only an extremely small fraction of cuts affecting our classrooms.

For years, Newark’s budget has been a symbolic tin can that had been kicked down the road by Superintendent after Superintendent. This has gone on for decades.   There has been little strategy, just kids getting hurt by cuts. But as reported by NJ.com, since taking office less than a year ago, Superintendent Cerf is making some strides.

But as to be expected, Mr. Abeigon is now crying about these new proposals. He is getting in the way of progress, defending the status quo and supporting bureaucratic waste. He has even gone to Court to stop some of this important work.

As we all know, Mr. Abeigon cries and threatens lawsuits whenever his lucrative decades-old status quo is threatened.

These Abeigon tactics show Newarkers – once again – that his loyalties are with his own coffers, not our kids.

There is still work to be done.  NPS likely has some very tough budget issues ahead, but the solution lies not in continuing to kick the tin can down the road, and not by Mr. Abeigon’s usual crocodile tears and temper tantrums.

$65 million in savings shows that NPS can create efficiencies without cutting the actual resources that go to kids.

While it might be easy to be critical of Mr. Abeigon, it does not mean we shouldn’t. He has a clear personal agenda and financial motivation to keep things the way they are in Newark. His first and only job is to represent the interests of his union, not our kids.

The Abeigon Way of Doing Things has been an obstacle against needed change in our City for too long.  

The question we need to ask ourselves is whether we are going to allow him to continue to be an actual obstacle, or just let him be the minor nuance that he is.

For all his talk, Mr. Abeigon is a symbol of an old system that has not served our children. He is not on Newarkers’ side and his way of doing things simply does not represent what is best for Newark’s kids.