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

Sunday, October 10, 2010

More Teacher Layoffs, Coming Right Up!

What else are we to make of this?
In new testimony over the failed federal applications, ousted education commissioner Bret Schundler yesterday brought forward to a Senate panel more detail as to what led to his disagreements with Gov. Chris Christie, ultimately costing Schundler his job.
And for all the talk of the politics and “vendettas” along the way and a certain editing error that cost a critical five points in the competition, Schundler said it often came back to a fundamental difference over how much teacher seniority should remain a driving force in New Jersey state law, or at least in the federal application.
Christie remains adamant that it should be removed as a protection for teachers, and they should be judged – and retained – solely on their performance. It is one of the central tenets of his six-point education reform plan announced last week.
But Schundler last spring brokered a deal with the state teachers union that would have left the provision’s fate out of the Race to the Top bid, a decision that Christie ultimately rejected.
“The governor told me it was horrible policy and horrible politics,” Schundler said after his three hours of testimony.
Now, seniority is NOT about removing incompetent teachers; it's about who gets cut when there are layoffs. Schools work on a "first in, last out" policy, primarily so senior teachers aren't punished for making more money than junior teachers. Take away the protection of seniority, and who gets the axe first? Why, the better paid senior teachers, of course.

Assuming there will be layoffs. This is the key point - why fight so hard for stripping away seniority unless you were planning on RIFing more teachers?

It wasn't too long ago the state was talking about a teacher shortage. Christie has already laid off 3000 teachers (yes, Christie laid them off - man up and take some responsibility for once, Chris). In addition, I doubt the governor's little whine-fests are convincing many undergrads to choose education as their major, so the new teacher pool will undoubtedly shrink in the coming years. Finally, teachers are retiring in record numbers.

All this, and he's still clearly gunning for another culling of teachers. Bigger classes, fewer electives, less individualized instruction: that will be the Christie legacy.

1 comment:

Teddy Bear said...

Any teacher worth his/her weight will tell you that individual teachers, regardless of their teaching style will connect with some population of students (that is they will get a certain population of students to learn because of their style). What people are forgetting is the concept of classroom management and ability of the teacher to "read and follow" the school's hidden agendas! Teachers that have been around the longest usually do both of these well (otherwise they do not last long in a school). Young teachers have to learn these two features pretty much on the job and it is stressful. More experienced teachers can help younger teachers through this- UNLESS they are RIFFed. There is more to teaching than teaching- there is classroom management, agendas, paperwork, charisma, and Knowledge of how to teach and mastery of your subject. More experienced teachers (generally) have all these traits. Silly to RIFF these teachers in favor of teachers that may not "cut it" in a particular school for lack of guidance?