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

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Nation At Risk Of Massive Stupidity

Half an hour north of where I live and teach, on the fringe of the Ft. Hall Indian Reservation, the small town school board in Blackfoot has taken a dystopian approach to implementing State Superintendent Tom Luna's recently- passed education laws---a lottery may determine who stays in the classroom and who goes. 

The recently-passed legislation abolishing tenure and continuous contracts will force school boards into creative RIF plans. The Blackfoot school board recently adopted a new RIF policy, explains theBlackfoot Morning News of April 15, 2011: 

First, natural attrition will be used. Then, if necessary, those on probation due to unsatisfactory performance will be terminated. In phase three, those on a plan of improvement due to unsatisfactory performance will be terminated. Finally, a formula will be used to calculate education, training and competency based on certification, endorsements, additional degrees and evaluations.

If additional layoffs are necessary, those in each category with the lowest formula scores will be placed in a lot to be selected for termination. 
The Blackfoot school board really shouldn't be vilified for their action. Some worry that the new legislation will open the district to lawsuits based on age discrimination. They just sense the constraints of Idaho's version of education reform.  
That's exactly right. There is a wave of lawsuits coming the likes of which have not been seen in a long time. I know the conservatives have stocked the courts, but not to the extent that the corporate reformers can get away with this really awful nonsense. Someone will have to atone.

People have invested their lives in this system; now, in direct contradiction of the evidence, the corporate reformers want to renege on all of the inherent promises made to teachers.

You spent all that time and money on a masters degree? Too bad; no more bonuses. You thought you had protection from political interference? Tough luck; it's gone. You accepted lower wages at the beginning of your career because of the pay scales that had you earning more later? Suck on this: those scales are now gone. You thought sticking it out would be worth it because, as long as you did your job, seniority would save your career? Sorry, sucker.

Let me say this in clear and unambiguous language: the people who are calling for the wholesale breaking of promises to teachers are scumbags. They don't care about teachers, and they certainly don't care about kids. If they did, sickening stories like the one above would never happen.


Sandy Dover said...

Although, not a teacher, I have been in a Union & see the danger in the attackes against Teachers. It's called the Corporate takeover of Education. Been going on in other States, and by the scores, it's not working. New Jersey is ranked B-, and it's not great, but a lot better than most States. Christi has been going after the Union since Day 1, I don't know what people expected from a Republican. They will say anything to get elected, lie right to your face and stab you in the back. Okay I'm finished.

calugg said...


You're analysis is spot on!

Actually, someone should make the unkind observation that Christie is moving money from public school districts to his fellow lawyers, since this "de-tenure" scheme is a litigation attorney's dream.

While teachers may be one special interest group, lawyers are another in this picture. And I suspect more than a few ambitious litigators see dollar signs dancing since this scheme probably has more to do with defunding districts through endless litigation than anything else.

And yeah....if last year's school budget follies showed anything, it's that the current gov isn't a fan of local control. The de-tenuring scheme is another whack at a hallowed NJ tradition.

Ian Berger said...

We always need an enemy, and now its teachers. Let's get 'em, with their huge salaries, vacations, union protection, and inability to single-handedly transform the lives of poor children.

After 9/11 we public servants were made heroes. Now the same people who sanctified us are now vilifying us.

I'm very tired of non-teachers and educators butting their heads into education and seeking to reform it. Teachers care about educating children. We are very happy to do what's necessary to educate kids, 'cause trust me, we're not doing it for the money. Why isn't anybody listening to us?