Newark supt. blasts union chief for alleged fraudulent fundraising


Abeigon to Cerf: ‘You’re wrong!”

Newark  schools boss John M. Abeigon HD swung back at the city’s superintendent, laughing off Christopher Cerf‘s  claim that the union created a fake fund drive to raise cash.

“There’s nothing fictitious about the GoFundMe account,” Abeigon declared.

The tiff broke on:

Cerf, in a searing three-page letter to the union chief, accused Abeigon of creating a GoFundMe website under a “fictitious” foundation called ERC Foundation designed to raise $100,000.


Excerpt from Cerf letter blasting Abeigon. (


Supt. Christopher Cerf says Abeigon’s money-raising campaign a fraud. ( photo)

“When asked by the press,” Cerf charged, “you did not answer questions.”

Cerf was referring to a previous interview that Abeigon gave this blog’s editor, during which the union leader defended the fund-raising campaign. Abeigon at the time denied it was a fictitious foundation.

The website eventually went dark, with Abeigon saying at the time that it had been up temporarily only for testing purposes.

He stood by that assertion in the latest interview with us, saying, “We are working with our accountants to make certain that it complies with state and federal laws for accepting contributions.”

Cerf’s letter:




Union scuttles Newark schools ‘E-plan’

larissaNo sooner had city school officials given teachers the option of working Election Day than they had to cancel school when the union told teachers they didn’t have to work if they didn’t want to.

Larisa Shambaugh, the city’s chief talent officer, sent a letter to teachers telling them she was forced to close school Nov. 8 because union President John Abeigon had monkeyed up plans to keep schools open.

“Mr. Abeigon recently directly communicated to teaching staff to ignore our calendar and invoked a provision in state law directing members to take Election Day off if they  desire,” Shambaugh argued. “This action created a serious concern about whether there would be appropriate coverage for students.”

Abeigon fired back in his own letter to teachers:

“Newark Public Schools seek to blame everyone else for their mistakes and attempt to nullify a law that clearly states ‘No teaching staff member shall be required to perform his duties on any day declared by law to be a public holiday,’ ” he wrote.

The union boss charged that Shambaugh displayed “arrogance, disrespect” and a “refusal to respect the community of Newark.”

Abeigon said he never encouraged members to ignore the school calendar or take the day off. “In fact, we asked staff to give administrators plenty of notice if they would be absent (which they are not required to do) to insure coverage would be available.”

Shambaugh said she would schedule a makeup day later in the year.

The rift comes amid widespread publicity surrounding Abeigon‘s confusing, on-again, off-again fundraising campaign.

He had said the GoFundMe idea was aimed at replenishing the union’s legal-defense fund but days later pulled the plug on the website after critics questioned the union’s financial management.



Newark union chief: ‘Fundraising effort to be revived soon; stay tuned’


Union chief John M. Abeigon (

Newark Teachers Union chief John M. Abeigon says the group’s plans to raise money to defend public teachers have not been dropped, despite any public perception otherwise in the wake of “technical kinks.”

Abeigon‘s assertion comes just days after the union president pulled the plug on the organization’s funding site following critics who said the effort to raise money went south due to lack of support.

“The GoFundMe site is down temporarily and will return once we have worked out technical kinks,” Abeigon said.

The union boss has steadfastly denied the critics who complained the project was ill-fated due to the public perception that the union is awash in cash and needs no further financial help to defend embattled teachers.

He added: “We remain dedicated to fighting fire with fire and look forward to teachers negatively impacted by so-called ‘reforms’ to support us.”

Asked whether he has dropped the fundraising effort in the face of skepticism, Abeigon stated emphatically: “no.”

The union leader initiated a public fundraising campaign recently that he said was designed to help finance the onslaught against teachers, especially senior faculty members whose tenures are under fire.

But after the effort went dry, with no donations, Abeigon said the funding website was only up for testing. He quickly pulled it down, however, amid questions.

GoFundMe officials said people who create funding pages often don’t immediately publish them while they make final touches to their campaigns. Bartlett Jackson, regional communications manager for GoFundMe, said he wasn’t familiar with the details of the Newark case.

Abeigon insists he will re-post the funding page soon.



Union chief: ‘Fundraising campaign needed to fight fire with fire.’


John M. Abeigon

 By TED COHEN/Editor

The president of the Newark Teachers Union came out swinging against critics of his fledgling fund-raising campaign, saying the organization needs extra cash to “wage a successful campaign against the war on teachers.”

“There’s no shame in fighting fire with fire,” John M. Abeigon said in an exclusive interview with this blog. “The war on teachers is being funded with taxpayer dollars. Our only source of income is union dues from members. We don’t receive any taxpayer funding.”

Abeigon has come under fire from some critics who say the union should have plenty of money to do its work defending teachers with their contributed dues and shouldn’t have to create a special defense fund to bring in more dollars.

In a blistering headline blasting Abeigon‘s money-raising campaign, said the idea for the fund came from “the Department of Chutzpuh.”

An editorial from‘s Mike Antonucci said:

“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.”

But Abeigon is undeterred by his critics. He said the onslaught against senior teachers requires hiring lawyers, and that costs alot of money.

“School districts and the state are using so-called evaluation systems to retaliate against senior teachers to force them out the door,” Abeigon said. “They’ve been pushing tenure cases against our senior members, forcing litigation. Whether they’re being defended for evaluation or for tenure, defense attorneys cost money. Unlike the corporations that are funding the war on teachers, our pockets are not bottomless.”

He added: “We’re not begging. This is a vehicle to assist us bringing in money to fight the crimes being committed against working people, accumulating enough money so we can afford a respectful campaign against the war on teachers.”

Abeigon said that, contrary to what some critics have claimed, the nonprofit “ERC Foundation” he is setting up as a repository for the money isn’t ready yet for public donations. He contended the gofundme website was up only for testing. It was apparently taken down minutes after our interview:


“We only had it up briefly for testing purposes to get the kinks out,” Abeigon said before pulling down the website. “We haven’t launched it yet. If you try to donate, you can’t yet.”



Veteran teacher to union: Defend us – or we all succumb to Turnaround’s ilk

Just what is the NTU’s…

“Education Resource Foundation?”


Abigail Shure

Longtime Newark teacher Abigail Shure argues that if the union used teachers’ contributed funds for their intended purpose – defending embattled teachers – rather than for lobbying, public education would benefit.

Shure’s triggerpoint was the Newark Teachers Union’s crying poverty – creating a questionable “foundation,” the details of which remain murky and mysterious – while teachers fight their own battles without union backing.

If the forces trying to defenestrate public education – most notably Turnaround for Children Inc. – prevail, it will be thanks to a misdirected union.


Now, Shure’s essay, which broke on the web under Ed Notes Online

By Abigail Shure

The Newark Teachers Union (NTU) an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) opened a gofundme.comaccount as first reported on Bob Braun’s Ledger

Donated funds are to be funneled through ERC Foundation. Repeated Google searches, however, have unearthed no information on the mysterious charity. Requests for clarification from the NTU have not been returned.

To make matters worse, the AFT is flush with cash. totaled up $1,273,694 in 2016 AFT federal campaign contributions. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton raked in $22,880 while former Democratic candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, got a measly $8,229.  Unfortunate U.S. Sen. Corey Booker, D-NJ was only granted $15.

Back in 2015, detailed AFT donations to Clinton affiliates as $250,000 to Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Foundation, $250,000 to Clinton Global Initiative and $100,000 American Bridge 21st Century (a Clinton allied research group).

The AFT has plenty of money to spend on political candidates and politically aligned organizations with questionable agendas in regard to the future of public school education, whereas the teachers the union purports to represent have to resort to begging.





Can ‘Turnaround for Children’ friends help Cami get her bonus?

cami anderson

The Newark Teachers Union is circulating an on-line petition – on – requesting that Superintendent Cami Anderson not be given a $50,000 bonus after cutting Newark school budgets by over $50 million.

The petition, addressed to Gov. Chris Christie and Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, is not restricted to teacher signators.

The following email is being sent out on behalf of
John M. Abeigon, NTU Director of Organization
Today New Jersey Spotlight reported that the Christie Administration is considering giving as much as a $50,000 bonus to Newark’s controversial superintendent in the same year she’s forced over $50 million in cuts on Newark schools. [1]Tell Education Commissioner Cerf: No bonus for Cami Anderson while Newark’s schools are on the chopping block.

This spring Christie-appointed Superintendent Cami Anderson pushed through a school budget that cut $56 million from Newark schools, slashing funding for some schools by as much as 15%. [2] In response nearly 1,000 Newark students walked out of class and marched on a meeting of the New Jersey Assembly Budget Committee to demand the funds their schools are entitled to under state law.But in the end Anderson and Christie prevailed; no additional funds were offered to Newark. That the Christie Administration can now consider giving $50,000 to Newark’s superintendent while schools have been closed and programs are on the chopping block is simply obscene.Tell Commissioner Cerf that Cami Anderson shouldn’t get a bonus while Newark schools bleed.
chris cerf mug
Commissioner Chris Cerf

While Chris Christie and Commissioner Cerf may be happy with Anderson’s willingness to carry out their attacks on Newark public schools, Newark’s community is not.

This year the Newark Board of Education gave Anderson a vote of no confidence and the Newark City Council unanimously called for a moratorium on her future proposals
.Newark residents realize their public schools are being hollowed out from within.
Instead of working to improve public education, the Christie Administration is pushing a pro-charter, pro-voucher agenda that will be great for some people’s pocketbooks but totally inadequate to meet the needs of students.
They’re even on record as saying that they haven’t done a good enough job.
When Newark residents demanded that the state give up its stranglehold on Newark schools and give control back to the community, Commissioner Cerf shoo’d them off and said that Newark school performance wasn’t where it needed to be. [3]
But if school performance is lagging, how can they possibly justify giving the person they charged with improving it a massive bonus?
This is cronyism at its very worst, and it’s an insult to Newark students, educators, and residents
John M. Abeigon
Director of Organization
[1] Mooney, John. “Newark’s school chief is up for her next performance bonus.” New Jersey Spotlight, July 22, 2013.
[2] “The backstory: Why Newark’s high school students walked out.” New Jersey Spotlight, April 12, 2013.
[3] “Acting Commissioner dramatically lowers state monitoring scores.” The Education Law Center, July 5, 2012.
Mike Maillaro
Director of Research and Communication
Newark Teachers Union
“Stay strong, stay focused, stay united”