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 11, 2012

Christie's Totally Awesome School Plan

Courtesy of the Star-Ledger's Tom Moran, here's the latest look into the reformy brain of Chris Christie:
Q. And is tenure reform the most important part of that?
A. I see tenure, merit pay and OSA as a bundle. I’d like to see them all go together. By repairing the tenure system, we’ll be able to get rid of some ineffective teachers, but then we’ve got to get effective ones in there and it’s going to be years and years. So that’s why I think OSA is such an important part, and increasing charter schools in urban areas, so that those kids don’t get lost while the fixes of tenure and merit pay are fixing the system in a 10-year horizon.
So we finally get a peek at the master plan: Chris is going to fire "ineffective" teachers from the public schools. Simultaneously, he's going to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from those same schools. He's also going to jack up teacher benefit contributions and slash teacher pensions.

And yet, somehow, he's going to replace all these "bad" fired teachers with more effective teachers - within ten years! Magically, better teachers will appear in schools, even though job protections, pay, and benefits have all decreased.

Yeah, good luck with that...

Until this happy day, we'll move the kids over to private and charter schools, on the basis of no evidence at all that the teachers in either are any better. And even though it appears the number of seats needed is nowhere close to the number available; here's Gordon MacInnes:
For example, Camden has only six nonpublic schools but 10,888 students in chronically failing schools! Asbury Park has none. Newark’s five parochial elementary schools could serve only a handful of the 20,568 students in failed K-8 schools.
Of course, there's absolutely no evidence that these private schools will do any better than the "failing" public schools at educating these children. And the Kean version of OSA allows scholarships for students already enrolled in private schools, which would be completely at odds with what Christie says here; I look forward to his veto.

But don't worry: even if we don't have enough private school slots, we'll be expanding charters, even though charter quality varies widely, so there's no guarantee any of the charter students will go to a better schools - or have a better teacher.

Oh, and let's not forget the Merit Pay Fairy. Christie still won't tell us exactly how he's going to make her appear, but...

This is asinine. You can't fire your way to better school performance in lower-performing, high-poverty schools. The notion that talented people are going to flock to jobs that pay less, have fewer benefits, can be cut at any minute, and come with no workplace protections is absurd on its face. Shipping students out to privates and charters when there is no evidence they do a better job is also inane.

This is not a plan. It is a bunch of reformy bromides that are incoherent and ill-informed. And the real goal is obvious: the deunionization of teaching.


Will Richardson said...

Just once I'd like to get the Governor to define his terms. What, exactly defines "effective?" What is learning? What is the role of a "teacher"?

Unless those definitions have changed, this isn't reform at all. It's just doing the same old stuff "better" supposedly.

Anonymous said...

What Christie has planned for NJ schools is appalling and an absolute abomination. It is indeed all about union busting and disempowering teachers. The thing is, if he gets away with all this filth, it will not improve NJ schools or make them one iota better, quite the opposite.

Walt Sautter said...

Teachers have spent fifty years, legitimately building the profession into one with a modicum of respect, decent wages and benefits. Now within just a few years those gains are being eroded and destroyed, all without protest.
In spite of the Governor’s claim of a powerful NJEA, it has done little in response to the current attack on teachers. The union has been docile and completely ineffectual at best.


Anonymous said...

All unions are under attack in this country but especially teachers' unions. We have had 30 years of agressive union busting. The war against teachers' unions has gotten very heated and revved up the last few years, especially with GOP governors like Christie, Walker, Daniels, etc. But Democrats like Emanuel, Obama and Cuomo are not much better. The overall unionization rate is down to 11.8% of the total workforce (it's well over 80% in Finland). Tenure was designed to protect good effective teachers from the whims of administrators and parents; it also protects great older more expensive teachers from being fired to lower school district costs.

Anonymous said...

I am still amazed that the vast majority of 'bad' teachers all teach in urban centers in every state across the country and not in your more affluent and more suburban areas. Who would have thought that every bad teacher would, when job hunting, would only apply and be hired in high poverty, very culturally diverse cities. The large quantity of bad teachers in those areas demand an overhaul, charter school, vouchers, loss of tenure, more high stakes testing, budget cuts and state takeover to fix... Oh, wait a minute...

Lisa said...

The emasculation of unions is part of the state Republican play book (i.e. ALEC), because unions are the largest single mechanism for organizing and getting out the Democratic vote.

This is politics, not policy, and has little if anything to do with actual education reform, and is not based on research.

Merit pay, for example, does work, but not teacher merit pay; student merit pay.

Merit pay study: Teacher bonuses don't raise student test scores


But what actually does work to improve student achievement (including improving student health, poverty, home life, etc.) doesn't square with the Republican goal of crippling unions to weaken Democrat's ability to organize and get out their supporters.

So sadly, the reality is that working towards a real, effective, research-based fix within the education community is futile. We need to use political means to alter the politics, which is the actual driving force behind all these so-called "reforms."

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the rallying cry of "Christie is deunionizing teachers". Aside for Vince and Barbara losing their six figure salaries, why is that a bad thing?

Unions created tenure. Unions created compensation based on your tree rings not on your performance. Unions have stood in the way of fixing those things.

The highest performing schools in NJ are private schools -- no unions. The lowest performing schools in NJ are inner city government-run schools -- unions.

Where are the doctor and lawyer unions? Where are the "professional" unions? Unions are for coal miners and truck drivers and jobs that teachers claim to be above, yet they defend their union (fewer than you would think by reading here, by the way).

I think most "civilians" don't know that teachers have no CHOICE but to join the union -- the dues come right out of the paycheck! Why aren't they given that option? In states where they have been, union membership plunged by well more than half.

How about it, Jazz? Must union membership be mandatory? Or can the union prove its own worth and attract teachers' dues based on merit, not legal enforcement?

Anonymous said...

Unions did not create tenure, that's a damn lie. Tenure came before unions and has been around for about 100 years even before unions became a factor. The highest performing schools are private schools?? Another damn lie. Actually, well funded suburban schools outperform private schools, even with all the advantages of private schools. Private schools can pick and choose who they take. They do NOT take all the students, they eliminate problems, they don't take kids with disabilities, special needs students or students with learning problems. The elite private schools have tuitions well above $25K and that's not even counting other sources of financial support. I guess the troll never heard of the AMA or the ABA. Unions are democratic organizations, teachers vote for their leaders locally and state wide. Teachers fought for generations to have union representation. My God, do you think it was easy to form unions against all the union busting tactics. The anti-union troll wants to ban teachers' unions which makes him anti-democratic. Why is he so opposed to unions in a state with highly rated schools. Yeah, yeah, we all know about Camden and Newark. Their struggling schools cannot be blamed on unions so don't even go there.

Anonymous said...

To blame unions for failing schools or for the problems in inner city schools is wrong and just not accurate. Do you give any credit to unions for the high performing schools in the suburbs? The high performing schools in the suburbs outperform private schools and even the Finnish schools (Finnish teachers are unionized). The troll will not give unions any credit for high performing public schools but he will blame unions for the problems of inner city schools. What a flaming hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

Questioning unions is being "anti-democratic"?

Then why not let teachers vote on whether their membership and dues have to be taken from their paycheck and they have to be mandated to be members, often with a union of which they are embarrassed, that takes political and social stances with which they don't agree.

That's democracy? That sounds like tyranny to me.

I'm curious as to the popularity of teacher's unions among the non-teacher NJ population.

How about a referendum on Right To Work? Anyone here think that would pass?

I know a number of teachers that are Christie voters, are Republican, and are embarrassed to be NJEA members. Yet they have no choice.

Anonymous said...

There's a new education language that we all have to learn. Besides "effective teachers" which has been out there, the Acting Commissioner (3 cheers for Ron Rice on that one) Cerf has been throwing around a few odd terms.

One being "Master Educator". So what is a "Master Educator"? Does anyone know?

Is there a rubric, any benchmarks, a standardized test that makes someone a "master educator".

Cerf refers to this all the time. He's bringing in "Master Educators". Could someone please ask our illustrious ACTING commissioner what the definition is? Because all of us minions would like to know.

Anonymous said...

Too damn bad about your phoney baloney friends. They gladly take the benefits that the teacher unions fight for and win. The majority of the teachers like the unions and like being represented by them. Your friends don't like the unions but they do like the raises and increases in benefits which the unions fight and negotiate for. Your phoney baloney friends have the option to teach in non union private schools. More GOP Christie hypocrites. Most of those right to work states have worse schools than NJ. If your friends were to be consistent, then they should not accept the raises and benefits which the unions have won for teachers.

Anonymous said...

(3 cheers for Ron Rice on that one)

The Ron Rice whose kid Ron Rice Jr. mysteriously went to the most expensive and expensive elite private school in New Jersey, Pingry, rather than the public schools in Rice's district where his contituents are forced to send their kids?

Yeah, three cheers for him. What a guy.

If your friends were to be consistent, then they should not accept the raises and benefits which the unions have won for teachers.

I think most great teachers would much prefer being paid for their worth like the rest of America rather than making lockstep union raises to the grave. Unions are made to "protect" the poor and mediocre.

Anonymous said...

Wrong, unions protect decent, honest, hard working great teachers from being railroaded or fired on trumped up charges. Unions are made to protect teachers from unfair and capricious labor practices.

Anonymous said...

OK Troll - so you don't like the cheer leading for Ron Rice keeping Cerf an acting commissioner.


What the H--- is a "Master Educator" - the term the ACTING COMMISSIONER uses again and again and again.

Anonymous said...

(shrug) I know little about Cerf and I'm not some appointed defender of him.

I would like to hear about how Ron Rice Sr. the single largest proponent of keeping his largely minority and impoverished constituents away from school choice, dealt when it was the future, the life and the hopes for his own flesh and blood and namesake.

Why didn't Ron Rice Jr. go to the government-run schools in his hime districts? How, why, and with what $$$ did he wind up in the most expensive private school in New Jersey?

Is there at least a cover story some of you can parrot? Anything? Was he that Super Special A Child Above All The Non-Senator's Sons?

I mean, this isn't just throwing a dart to find an example -- Ron Rice Sr. is the single loudest, angriest, most confusing-to-listen to school choice opponent in the entire universe of NJ elected officals.

Duke said...

If the best argument you can muster for OSA is that Ron Rice, Jr. went to a private school...

... then you've got problems.