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, November 16, 2011

Tenure and Vouchers and Charters

John Mooney - one of the best reporters in NJ - says it comes down to the big three:
Gov. Chris Christie yesterday put out his now-familiar call for the Democratic-controlled legislature to act on what he said are the state's priorities, starting with his package of proposals on teacher tenure, charter schools, and school vouchers.
The Democratic leadership, for its part, put out its schedule for the next two months, starting next Monday.
And for all of Christie's prodding, which is expected to continue today with an education event in Secaucus, the legislature is actually pretty far along on several of the governor' core proposals.
True, they contain significant Democrat-induced elements, but the chances of passage for at least some of them are pretty strong. [emphasis mine]
Tenure: You can mess around with the number of years, add a "mentoring" year, whatever. The most important thing is that teachers must be able to appeal a dismissal under tenure to an authority outside of their district. Remove this provision, and teaching stops being a profession and starts becomes a cronyism job.

Nothing is more important to a tenure law than this. Any legislator who passes a tenure law without it is guilty of turning school districts into Tammany Halls.

Charters: It's laughable that anyone out there really thinks that more charter schools will help student achievement; the evidence says they will not. If you want a few more, fine, but no charter schools without local approval; that's absolutely necessary. You can't ask a community to fund a boutique charter school at the expense of their students.

And for-profit operators need to stay out.

Vouchers: Again, the people who push this stuff are either deluded or dishonest: private schools do no better than public schools when you account for student differences.  And I hate to tell all the ministers pushing this, but the First Amendment is awfully clear about giving money to churches - not that a little thing like the Constitution ever stops our "originalist" judges anymore.

I've really got to wonder which corporations want their names attached to the fly-by-night operations that voucher cheerleaders see springing up if OSA passes. Why would a corporation take the risk of associating their good name with a school that could turn out to be a train wreck?

One more thing: look at this list above. Take a good, hard look.

Does anyone reading this really believe any of this nonsense is going to do a damn thing to improve student performance in New Jersey?

Again: look at the differences between our highest-performing and lowest-performing schools.

We know what we need to do to help kids in this state. Our overlords just don't want to do it.

Try and tell me I'm wrong.


Anonymous said...

Vouchers are just a cruel joke. Vouchers for schools, vouchers for Medicare, vouchers for veterans' medical care and privatizing Social Security are all very bad ideas. The parents will be given a set amount, it won't be enough for the elite private schools like Lawrenceville or Hun which can cost anywhere from $27k to $36k a year. Many of these private schools are selective about whom they accept, which doesn't include special needs kids and extreme discipline problems. These private schools can easily oust kids who become disruptive or who become too costly. Then there is the problem of busing. Vouchers and charters are a really terrific way to destroy a very good public educational system here in NJ.

Pete said...

People will realize the cruel joke of vouchers when the courts require both vouchers and full funding for public schools. If this isn't a tax increase to benefit those who can afford private schools, what is? Gov. Christie, It may not be our business why you send your kids to private school, but it IS our business why you then cut funding to public schools. Cutting $1t then restoring 3/4 of that is not an increase in funding. I guess you didn't pay attention in math class.

Anonymous said...

I have no opinion on charters, aside from anything is worth trying in the failing inner city schools.

Tenure The most draconian tenure bill imaginable will change the teacher workforce in itty bitty degrees, not as soon as our children in failing inner city schools need it.

Merit pay? Yes, I think that teachers who succeed in the inner city schools should be paid more. I don't think a K-2 gym teacher organizing dodgeball in some whitebread suburb should make 120k plus benefits and a special ed inner city high school science teacher should make less than half that. (and don't tell me it doesn't exist I didn't make that scenario up, I know those people) Christie is right about that and the NJEA look like fools arguing the point.

The OSA, which is NOT vouchers, is the answer now for the children in crowded inner city failing schools. You pay your taxes for education -- why should you have to be forced to send your child to the sausage factory down the street that is churning out criminals and drop outs? Because you are poor? Is that fair? Maybe those inner city schools have the greatest teachers in the world -- but something isn't working when only 25% of kids are graduating. And it probably isn't going to be figured out any time soon no matter how much tenure reform or merit pay is grudgingly allowed. Get the families that want to move go to the school of their choice. Leave the money in the public school, which the OSA does, and ease their overcrowding. Pass the OSA, it is a win for everyone, including inner city teachers who will work in less crowded schools with more money, resources and rooms.

We have to realize that, as with police and fire and every other aspect, Mendham is not Camden. The approach to schools has to be different. The schools in the inner cities are failing, and it isn't because of money, we tried that. It isn't because of the buildings, we tried that. Private schools are right there, working. Use them. Kids lives are at stake.

Peace out.

Anonymous said...

Please be more specific on how great teachers can solve the problems caused by poverty and discrimination. Can you provide data on the privates and charters you claim are working? Have you ever worked in, visited, or driven by one of our most troubled schools? Please explore this site; you could learn a lot.
And, by the way, kids’ lives have been at stake for a long time—many of us have devoted our lives to helping them.

Yes, even during the boom years when private sector types though we were suckers for making so little cash--were you worried about this stuff during the 1990s?

Duke said...

Anon, it costs the parents that amount of $ - the actual cost per student is much higher. You are right, this is a great way to destroy our schools.

Pete, you cracked the code!

Duke said...

Oh, Anon #2...

You want to "try anything." I say - try what works. Reducing poverty, high-quality preschool, small class sizes - we know that works. If you really care about these deserving children and you're willing to pay up, we can fix this. Are you?

Anecdotes are the worst evidence. Listen to NJ101.5 for more of the same.

OSA is most certainly "vouchers." And check the OLS report - the money IS being drained from the districts. It's simple logic.

We haven't tried more money in Camden - we've given a some more, than taken it away, and cried "More money doesn't matter!" Those children are pawns in a political game. It's disgusting.

BTW, do you think Camden has lots of slots open in high-quality private schools? Especially since we know private schools do slightly worse than public schools when controlling for student characteristics?

Get real. OSA won't solve a damn thing. Charters won't solve a damn thing. Tenure "reform" won't solve a damn thing.

We need to stop the looting of the poor and middle class by the rich. That will save children. Anything else is a farce.