I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


It's sometimes difficult for me to convey how bizarrely muddled the thinking of Chris Christie can be. It's a symptom, I suppose, of a mind that leaps to conclusions before learning all of the facts.

Take this exchange today over tenure at another scripted propaganda regurgitation "town hall":

0:14: First thing is that I think we have to have some form of tenure. Because we don't want folks to be fired for political purposes, retaliatory purposes... Teachers should not have to worry about what they say in a classroom and that they'll be fired because the principal doesn't believe in their political point of view  or because they've disagreed with the principal. I think that we have to have protections there for that.

Has he been reading this blog? Because that is exactly the point of tenure, and it is in this way that tenure protects both teachers and students.

The problem is that Christie's draft bill allows for exactly this type of interference, as it allows for no appeal to an authority outside of the school district where the teacher is employed. Any principal who has the backing of his superintendent can pretty much give any rating he wants to his staff (and that's not even taking into account how he can use class lists to fix the VAM ratings of a teacher). That rating can be issued in May, the teacher will lose her tenure, and it's good-bye for next year.

At no point can the teacher turn to an outside authority and make the case that she is being screwed. Take that away, and you take away the heart of tenure. It is simply incoherent for Christie to say he is for some form of tenure when he is also for teacher dismissals without an impartial hearing.

This bill is a recipe for cronyism and political abuse. It will create a wave of lawsuits so large it will overwhelm the courts, which was the problem "tenure reform" was supposed to address in the first place. And not only will it chase away good teachers who dare to speak on on behalf of themselves, their colleagues, their political beliefs, or (most importantly) their students; it will give a perfect excuse for those teachers who should be removed for bad teaching! Principals who are making sincere efforts to remove bad teachers will be branded as political thugs - who will be able to say that they aren't? Certainly not an impartial third party.

Yes, there are bad teachers - every teacher knows it. We want a system that will remove them. But we are not going to willingly give up our rights for a half-baked scheme cooked up by an unqualified panel that has the potential to actually protect bad teachers while harming those of us who cherish and exercise our constitutional rights.

When you become a teacher, we will tell you which "rights" you have, comrade!

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