"Let me be clear," Christie said in a press conference in his outer office yesterday. "We don’t want to see the elimination of tenure, but the elimination the tenure system we have now."Another day, another lie. This bill clearly eliminates tenure.
All tenure does is prevent a teacher from being fired without holding a hearing before someone outside of the school district. If a teacher doesn't have tenure, they can be fired at will by school officials and/or administrators.
In Christie's bill, all it takes to fire a tenured teacher is one "ineffective" rating in one evaluation in one year. Forget the about using test scores (a completely failed policy, anyway); in this bill, a principal can give an "ineffective" rating regardless of test results, as they only count for 50% of the rating anyway.
(Of course, a principal can easily sabotage a teacher's rating by playing around with class lists; I'll talk about this later.)
Worse, there's no appeals process unless the teacher charges the district "failed to adhere substantially to the approved evaluation process." Any savvy principal can easily game this system and stay within the rules, especially if his superintendent backs him up.
The fact is tenure under Christie's bill would be absolutely meaningless: it would offer NO protections. In that climate, it's easy to see schools becoming the new Tammany Halls of New Jersey: political patronage machines that reward cronies and demand political fealty from staff.
It's not surprising that Chris Christie would sign off on such a perversion of the schools. Christie after all, is a supplicant of Carl Rove who made his bones in Alberto Gonzales's Justice Department. Remember the fired US Attorneys? Christie has already shown he has no problem politicizing education when he pulled the same stunt with seven county school superintendents.
With this bill, he's just expanding the franchise. Any teacher who doesn't toe the correct political line, who raises a ruckus on behalf of a student whose needs aren't being served, who causes trouble during a contract negotiation... well, let's just say you may want to look into another line of work.
And that's the dirty secret the corporate reformers don't want the public to know:
Tenure doesn't just protect teachers; it protects the taxpayers. It keeps schools from becoming a haven for the politically connected.
You know, there once was a country that made the school system a tool of politicians and their cronies...
Study hard for the NJASK, Ivan!