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

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Massive Tenure Hypocrisy

State Education Commission Christopher Cerf has ordered that ousted Perth Amboy Superintendent Janine Caffrey be immediately reinstated and offered the school district a mediator to resolve disputes.
In a letter issued today, Cerf ruled that the school board failed to get a majority of the members to vote for removal of the superintendent.
On April 24, the board voted 4-0 to place Caffrey on administrative, with five members abstaining, four of them saying they could not vote on personnel matters because they had a relative employed by the district. The board also voted to to hire a consultant to negotiate a settlement of Caffrey's contract.
Cerf, in his letter dated today, said "I find the majority of the nine-member board must have voted in favor of the action in order for the board to appropriately place (Caffrey) on administrative leave."
Caffrey had appealed the board's decision to the Department of Education, and the school board had until noon Monday to file a brief in support of its action. [emphasis mine]
Let's start with this, once again: I do not know who is at fault here. This has been a bizarre case with a lot of angles, and I am not prepared to condemn Caffrey (although I will continue to point out she was not highly experienced for the job) or the PA BOE.


Janine Caffrey has seen her star rise in New Jersey by remaking herself as the Queen of Tenure. She called tenure, "...the single greatest impediment to education improvement in New Jersey, without a doubt.Tom Moran of the Star-Ledger loves her for it; Jim Gearhart of 101.5 FM loves her for it. B4K ran a big public relations campaign for her because they love her stand on killing tenure.

Remember that tenure is merely the right to due process. If a school board moves to fire a tenured teacher, that teacher has one right: to have a hearing in front of an impartial third party. TEACHNJ, the tenure-gutting bill currently working its way through the NJ Legislature, would take away that right.

But this is EXACTLY what Caffrey got when faced with termination from her own board! Cerf - ostensibly the "impartial" third party - stepped in and overrode the PA BOE. She was saved from a board that she contends had a political agenda against her by using her right to due process.

This is the most hypocritical thing I've seen since I started the blog. The brazen double-standard is simply stunning. Caffrey and all of her cheerleaders ought to be ashamed of themselves.

If due process is good enough for reformy administrators like Janine Caffrey, why isn't it good enough for teachers???

I really don't want to hear another thing from Caffrey, Cerf, B4K, Moran, or any of these other "reformers" about how important it is to get rid of hearings before third parties prior to firing teachers. If you people can give Caffrey due process, you can damn well give it to the rest of us.

The hypocrisy meter explodes...

ADDING: And on the very day this all came down:
With fewer than two months before the state budget is due, Gov. Chris Christie said this morning he wants the state Legislature to deliver laws changing the tenure system for public school teachers in a way that will result in decreased taxes for New Jersey residents.
"I want to make one thing really clear to the state Legislature: Do not send me watered down B.S. tenure reform,’’ he told a crowd of more than 450 at a town hall meeting in Monmouth County.
"No one in this state should be guaranteed a job after three years and one day on the job without regard to how they do their job,’’ he said.
Unless they have powerful, wealthy friends in lobbying shops, the press, radio, the DOE, and the Statehouse.

These people have absolutely no shame whatsoever.

ADDING MORE: Here is the current tenure law in New Jersey:
18A:6-10. Dismissal and reduction in compensation of persons under tenure in public school system
No person shall be dismissed or reduced in compensation,

(a) if he is or shall be under tenure of office, position or employment during good behavior and efficiency in the public school system of the state, or

(b) if he is or shall be under tenure of office, position or employment during good behavior and efficiency as a supervisor, teacher or in any other teaching capacity in the Marie H. Katzenbach school for the deaf, or in any other educational institution conducted under the supervision of the commissioner;

except for inefficiency, incapacity, unbecoming conduct, or other just cause, and then only after a hearing held pursuant to this subarticle, by the commissioner, or a person appointed by him to act in his behalf, after a written charge or charges, of the cause or causes of complaint, shall have been preferred against such person, signed by the person or persons making the same, who may or may not be a member or members of a board of education, and filed and proceeded upon an in this subarticle provided.

Nothing in this section shall prevent the reduction of the number of any such persons holding such offices, positions or employments under the conditions and with the effect provided by law. [emphasis mine]
This is exactly what happened to Caffrey: she got a hearing with the ACTING Commissioner.

Can you tell that I'm just a little bit hyped up about this?


Commuting Teacher said...

Bravo, JJ!! Is this what it's like having a political connection to keep your job?

Duke said...

Seems so. Hey, we can all count on Tom Moran to write about us if we get fired, right???

Suzanne Libourel said...

Here's the most cogent point for me:

"On April 24, the board voted 4-0 to place Caffrey on administrative, with five members abstaining, four of them saying they COULD NOT VOTE ON PERSONNEL MATTERS BECAUSE THEY HAD A RELATIVE EMPLOYED BY THE DISTRICT.

Really? Did any of them vote on the 'personnel matter' that got their relative hired? Did any of them vote for ANY EMPLOYEE'S 'personnel matter'???? WTF!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but since all employees are voted on by the board, doesn't this mean that NO EMPLOYEE could be hired by this board?

Duke said...

Which is exactly why we tenure, Suzanne. Would you want any board with this many connections to the faculty having power to make high-stakes decisions?