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, March 7, 2012

The Ruiz NJ Tenure Bogeyman Protection Bill!

So State Senator Teresa Ruiz (D-DiVincenzo/Christiecrat) had a big hearing Monday about her tenure "reform" bill, and the usual suspects breathlessly declared war on the Tenure Bogeyman. "There is no greater urgency in my city," pronounced Cory Booker, apparently unaware of the soaring Newark murder rate. He wasn't the only non-educator who was screaming in fear at the big, scary, tenure monster:
The chairman of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Jeffrey Scheininger, said his manufacturing company was “shocked” to find the vast majority of job applicants could not perform simple math with fractions. “We need a steady stream of literate and numerate young people,” he said. “Our economic stability depends on it.”
Of course, he didn't mention that people who can do math are working at jobs where their salaries have stagnated for years. And the cuts in state and local jobs have made things far worse. Are we going to blame the Tenure Bogeyman for this?

Naturally, some of the superintendents who showed up sided with the corporatists:
But for several educators and others, the exception would gut the bill by stopping it from applying its most stringent consequences to the vast majority of teachers.
The superintendent of Perth Amboy schools, Janine Caffrey, testified that it was critical that schools have the opportunity to move on existing teachers who do not make the grade.
“Don’t tell me we’re not in a hurry and will grandfather people who have been here a while,” Caffrey said.
As I reported in December, Caffrey - despite being anointed the Queen of Tenure Reform by the Star-Ledger - is one of the least experienced and least qualified superintendents in the state. She has problems removing bad teachers because she is inexperienced in public school supervision - not because of tenure.

I didn't see the hearing first hand, as I was in the classroom destroying America. But the press reports make clear that this was a massive whining session, with lots of folks blaming tenure for problems that have nothing to do with teacher protections, let alone education.

Further, none of these people offer any proof that hordes of "bad" teachers are running amuck, screwing up kids' lives. Where is the evidence that tenure is leading to learning deficiencies? Where is the evidence that tenure has any impact at all of teacher effectiveness? And where is the evidence that gutting tenure will not result in the sort of cronyism and corruption that will truly decimate our schools?

The burden of proof is on the "reformers," and they have yet to make their case. I've made mine for keeping tenure; where's the counter-argument?

I'll have more to say about the Ruiz bill in the coming days, but for now: is anyone seriously prepared to stand with Cory Booker and declare this is the most urgent problem we face in our cities, and society in general?

Or is it possible the corporate reformers have created a bogeyman that's designed to divert our attention from the real issues of the day?
Yaaarrghh! I'm going to eat Newark!


czarejs said...


This has me so angry. Does nobody realize what this means not just for teachers but for all workers? An arbitrary assessment system, no right to appeal, loss of job security that was earned. I'm sure Anon troll will show up here saying welcome to my world, but for goodness sake how can anyone think this won't harm not only education but the ability of all workers to stand up for themselves?

Duke said...

You are exactly right. First they come for the teachers...