Forget about grievance policies and transfer rules—the teachers union in Newark, New Jersey, has more important things to worry about these days. The union recently paid for six billboards in the city that read “HELP WANTED: STOP THE KILLINGS IN NEWARK.” At least 106 people have been murdered in the city of 227,000 in the past year—a wave of violence that the union says has become a grim working-conditions issue for educators. Some 100 teachers have resigned or retired from Newark schools since September, and in a recent poll, the union’s members cited improving safety and preventing violence in schools as second in importance only to salary and benefits issues. “Who’s going to send their daughter or son to teach here?” asks union president Joseph Del Grosso. Some residents—and apparently the mayor’s office—have objected that the billboards project a negative image of the city. Del Grosso just hopes they will spur action: “Maybe these billboards aren’t the solution, but at least it’s calling attention to the need for a solution.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.