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 13, 2011

The Christie Cronyism Bill

The actual text of Christie's tenure "reform" bill is not yet up at his website (as of this writing, the links on his website are wrong), so I have to rely on news accounts. But it's clear that he is proposing the end of due process for firing teachers:
Under the new system, teachers would be given one of four ratings – highly effective, effective, partially effective, or ineffective.
Teachers given the two highest ratings three years in a row would be eligible for tenure. Educators rated partially effective for two years or ineffective for one year would lose their job protections and could be fired at a principal's discretion.
And who gives teachers their ratings? Principals. So here's how it could work if a teacher's principal has it in for her:

Since principals determine class lists, a principal could put all of the low achievers in one class. The kids take the state exam and and teacher's VAM rating comes in low. But even without that, the principal could conduct the standard observations for the year and still write up the teacher as "ineffective," regardless of the class's test scores.

The teacher loses her tenure the next year. All tenure means, by the way, is that a teacher cannot be fired without a hearing. But now, no matter what happens in the classroom the next year, the principal can summarily refuse to renew the teacher's contract, without any cause whatsoever.

In other words: this teacher remains employed entirely at the whim of the principal and/or his superiors. There is no recourse for her at any point in the process. Not once does anyone have to determine of the principal was at fault.

If you don't think this is a recipe for cronyism, corruption, and abuse, you're a huge sap. This plan puts children LAST - they will be denied good teachers solely on the say so of a single administrator.

What a mess.

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