On Monday, Senator Ruiz's bill comes before that chamber's Education Committee. I have yet to read the latest version, but the reports are she is not going after seniority, and she will call for putting tenure cases before third-parties, and not just school districts.
If that's the case, it's quite conceivable that the two bills could be reconciled, and also be acceptable to the NJEA. Bob Grundfest has been doing excellent work over at his blog on the bill, and opines:
I also welcome the provisions that speed the tenure charge process and move it to arbitration. That the New Jersey School Boards Association is concerned only with who gets to pick the arbitrators is a positive step that should be remedied easily.Which really begs the question: what does Christie want?
My concerns center on who gets to decide if a teacher faces tenure charges after two ineffective evaluations. The bill says that a teacher may face them. What does that mean? Also, requiring a decision in a tenure case in 30 days might lead to rushed judgements. Evidence is not always so cooperative.
I am heartened by Senator Ruiz's reaction to what transpired today. She altered her bill to allow for more seniority rights, after initially wanting to end them.
The key to any tenure reform plan must be the continued due process protection that lies at its heart. Adjusting years or determining who hears a case amount to so much window dressing compared to the constitutional rights inherent in fair dismissal cases. Ruiz and Diegnan recognize this. The Governor doesn't.
He could veto the whole thing, and make his 2013 campaign Round II against the NJEA. Is anyone going to buy that?
Or he could sign it and take grudging credit: "It wasn't entirely what I wanted, but we only got it done because I pushed the issue so hard."
I'm not a very good pundit, so I won't venture a guess right now. But one thing's for sure:
No matter what happens, tenure "reform" will do very, very little to help New Jersey's kids. Once again:
New Jersey's best and worst schools have tenure; it is not the independent variable. Neither is the Merit Pay Fairy, or step guides, or charter schools, or "choice."
We ALL know what the real issue is. Tenure "reform" is nice, but it won't solve the real problem, will it?