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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Politboro Jr. High, NJ

So I've had a chance to look at the education "reform" bill Christie proposed; it's as insane as you would imagine.

Christie says:
"Let me be clear," Christie said in a press conference in his outer office yesterday. "We don’t want to see the elimination of tenure, but the elimination the tenure system we have now."
Another day, another lie. This bill clearly eliminates tenure.

All tenure does is prevent a teacher from being fired without holding a hearing before someone outside of the school district. If a teacher doesn't have tenure, they can be fired at will by school officials and/or administrators.

In Christie's bill, all it takes to fire a tenured teacher is one "ineffective" rating in one evaluation in one year. Forget the about using test scores (a completely failed policy, anyway); in this bill, a principal can give an "ineffective" rating regardless of test results, as they only count for 50% of the rating anyway.

(Of course, a principal can easily sabotage a teacher's rating by playing around with class lists; I'll talk about this later.)

Worse, there's no appeals process unless the teacher charges the district "failed to adhere substantially to the approved evaluation process." Any savvy principal can easily game this system and stay within the rules, especially if his superintendent backs him up.

The fact is tenure under Christie's bill would be absolutely meaningless: it would offer NO protections. In that climate, it's easy to see schools becoming the new Tammany Halls of New Jersey: political patronage machines that reward cronies and demand political fealty from staff.

It's not surprising that Chris Christie would sign off on such a perversion of the schools. Christie after all, is a supplicant of Carl Rove who made his bones in Alberto Gonzales's Justice Department. Remember the fired US Attorneys? Christie has already shown he has no problem politicizing education when he pulled the same stunt with seven county school superintendents.

With this bill, he's just expanding the franchise. Any teacher who doesn't toe the correct political line, who raises a ruckus on behalf of a student whose needs aren't being served, who causes trouble during a contract negotiation... well, let's just say you may want to look into another line of work.

And that's the dirty secret the corporate reformers don't want the public to know:

Tenure doesn't just protect teachers; it protects the taxpayers. It keeps schools from becoming a haven for the politically connected.

You know, there once was a country that made the school system a tool of politicians and their cronies...

Study hard for the NJASK, Ivan!

1 comment:

Joe Hollinger said...

My mother was a special education teacher in NJ for many years before her retirement and subsequent demise.

Through her I learned that tenure protects teachers from termination after they reached the number of years of service required.

The problem I found with tenure is that it forces communities to tolerate teachers that don't fit well with members of those communities. I don't particularly think the children in any community should endure the services of an unacceptable teacher just because that teacher served a certain number of years teaching there.

Should a teacher be subjected to the constant possibility of being fired for failure to perform. Yes, just like all other employees in may fields the country over. It keeps one on their toes and encourages constant self-improvement in order to stay
competitive in their field.

Should a teacher be able to remain untouchable regardless of the the amount of dissatisfaction they create because of some perceived weakness? No. If they are not doing the job their critics expect, the should be dismissed to make room for someone more qualified/capable of satisfying those critics.