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

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Reformy Language

Chris Christie, 3/24/10:
Language matters, ladies and gentlemen. Language is a window into attitude.
I couldn't agree more. Take, for example, ACTING NJ Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, this past week:
Cerf also reiterated his longstanding opposition to allowing voters in a school district to decide whether or not to approve a charter school, even though a bill that would require just that passed an Assembly committee last week.
“I’ve never met the situation where monopolists, given the chance to vote for competition would do that, ever,” Cerf said. “The people who tend to be good at organizing people to vote would be against mucking around with the current system.”
"Monopolists." Do you ever hear educators talking about "monopolists"? Not likely; the folks who talk about "monopolies" are businesspeople. Which is why ACTING Commissioner Cerf says things like:
"This is a $650 billion sector, second only to health care."
Again - does this sound like an educator to you? Remember:

Chris Cerf has spent his life in the business of education. His language betrays his world view.

Some other highlights from this interview:

Cerf noted that teachers currently get pay raises only based on “steps and lanes” in contracts — steps for longevity and lanes for additional education beyond a bachelor’s degree.
But research shows that teachers do not necessarily get better over time or with advanced degrees, Cerf said.
Actually, there is quite a bit of research that shows experience certainly does matter; at the very least, it matters more than many other arbitrary measures proposed by test-crazed corporate reformers. But even leaving that aside: what evidence is there that abandoning step-wise contracts leads to better student performance? Because I sure haven't seen it.

It's like Cerf is saying "Hey, let's try this unproven thing over here!" Why? Why would we upend the implicit contract with teachers simply because Cerf has a hunch that it might work? Why are we screwing around with one of the best school systems in the world simply because Cerf wants to roll the dice?
School districts should be able to offer different pay to teachers for a variety of reasons, Cerf said.
“If I want to pay more money to a teacher to work in a high-challenge school, I ought to be able to do that,” Cerf said. “If … a great teacher has been recruited for another school district, (the district) ought to be able to pay a retention bonus.
“Let everything else work out at the bargaining table. If they want to do performance bonuses … I just want this profession to have the opportunity to use compensation as a management tool,” Cerf added.
But teachers DON'T want to do performance bonuses; at least, they don't want to do them based on stupid, arbitrary nonsense like test scores.  Why are you forcing the issue? We know it won't work.

And the notion of paying teachers retention bonuses is hysterical. Does Cerf really want to have individual contracts for teachers? Does he want schools to go down the road of professional sports?

Yeah, that'll keep taxes low...

Regarding layoffs, Cerf said it is illegal for a school board to keep teachers based on their ability, and must instead lay off according to seniority. He said changing that law — called “last in, first out” — will be a huge cultural shift within local education.
“The system is decrepit and it’s not working,” Cerf said.
Wrong, wrong, WRONG! NJ is one of the best school systems in the world; it is NOT "decrepit" in the least! Why would you want to impose a "huge cultural shift" on some of the best schools in the nation when they are doing such a great job educating kids?

I can't understand why our ACTING Commissioner takes an active interest in portraying our great public schools as failing. Why is he so hellbent on dismissing the great work our students do every day? Why does he so blithely dismiss the outstanding work of our teachers? Why can't he acknowledge the great work of our educators?

It's disturbing.


Anonymous said...

Bottom line, without the BS: it's all about union busting, destroying the unions, turning teachers into powerless serfs, reducing benefits and pay.
Off topic, sort of: Christie has launched yet another nuclear strike at Giordano of the NJEA for some innocuous comments he made. Again, Christie brings up Giordano's pay and cites it at $500,000. Huh?!? The last time I looked it up, Giordano's pay was $300,000 a year which is high but a far cry from $500k. This swift boating of the NJEA is really out of hand.

Teacher Mom said...

Have you written about the waiver yet?

Duke said...

I haven't TM - mostly because I think it's irrelevant. I don't see the waiver changing anything for folks who have a corporate reform agenda.

Maybe that's something worth writing about...