Bucking decades of tradition, New Jersey’s acting education commissioner has declined an invitation to address the state’s largest teachers union at its annual convention in Atlantic City this week.
The acting commissioner, Rochelle Hendricks, told Barbara Keshishian, president of the New Jersey Education Association, in a letter dated Monday that she was declining the union’s invitation to speak at the convention because the union is resistant to “fundamental change.” The convention opens today and runs through Friday.
[...]So, the NJEA won't work with the Christie administration, except when they do.
Christie fired his education commissioner, Bret Schundler, in August after a clerical error cost the state $400 million in federal education grant money. Schundler later testified that Christie forbade him from submitting an application that the NJEA had endorsed, saying that he could not “cave in” to the union. The union’s endorsement would have earned the state enough points to qualify for the grant money in spite of the clerical error.
Just last week, Christie appointed nine people to serve on a task force charged with finding ways to use student achievement and other criteria to evaluate teachers and principals. No one was appointed to represent the NJEA, although the task force does have one representative from the much smaller American Federation of Teachers New Jersey, which represents about 30,000 teachers.So, the NJEA needs to work with the Christie administration, but has been excluded by Christie from working with the administration.
Hendricks noted in her letter to Keshishian that “New Jersey schools are led by some of the finest, most talented teachers in the nation.” But she chided the union for its refusal to consent to changes that would tie teacher tenure to student performance.So, NJ has great teachers, but they need to give up tenure on the basis of an evaluation system that they won't have a say in creating.
In a near future edition of the Record, I'm sure Al Doblin will say that it is up to both sides to put aside their differences and come together...
The Record's Al Doblin (staff photo)