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 31, 2010

Race to the Top - and the prize is...

It's been a talking point of Gov. Christie that we missed out on a lot of dough from Race To The Top because the teacher's union wouldn't get on board:
Just how arrogant has the union gotten? By refusing to accept merit pay and use it to reward their best members, the union may have cost New Jersey $400 million in race to the top school aid from Washington. They did this in a year when they complain about budget cuts; in a year when we could truly use the money. Ask yourself, just who is putting their personal interests ahead of our children’s?
Well, the winners were announced this week: Delaware and Tennessee. Let's leave aside whether or not these are states we actually want to emulate; what exactly did they win?
Delaware will receive approximately $100 million and Tennessee $500 million to implement their comprehensive school reform plans over the next four years.
NJ apparently asked for $400 million, but, again, one would assume that would be over 4 years. $100 million isn't monkey chow, but in a year when he cut $1.3 billion from the schools, it only accounts for 8% of the cuts.  Did the governor mention that in his screed? Wait, let me look again...

Gosh, he left that out. What a surprise.

Oh, and did I mention it turns out the lack of NJEA support was only part of the reason the grant was rejected:
  • It was unclear whether county offices, instruction specialists and the New Jersey education department had the "capacity, knowledge and skills necessary" to support districts in making major changes.
  • The application did not show how teacher evaluations would affect promotions.
  • The state did not maintain data to show which teachers were highly effective.
  • The state lacked a plan for removing ineffective principals, cutting the number of ineffective teachers and making sure an equitable share of talented faculty worked in high-poverty schools.
I'm sure the governor's staff is working hard to blame the NJEA for all of the above.

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