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, June 10, 2012

Has the Ruiz Tenure Bill Changed?

I am withholding judgment until I see the bill itself. But if what the Star-Ledger is reporting is true, we may have just seen an enormous breakthrough in the debate on tenure "reform":
More than a year after state Sen. Teresa Ruiz began gathering evidence on how to overhaul the state’s century-old teacher tenure law, a bill that would link the job protection to regular evaluations may soon be fast-tracked in Trenton.
Ruiz (D-Essex) said during an editorial board meeting late last week that she has meetings scheduled Monday to hammer out the bill’s contents and expects to introduce an updated draft of the legislation as early as this week.
“I’ve wanted to focus on tenure reform since I came into office,” she said. “This month, I intend to post a bill that will be passed and a bill that will be signed.”
Gov. Chris Christie has made tenure reform one of his priorities and has publicly expressed his support for Ruiz’s efforts. The New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, has expressed concerns with parts of her plan.
Ruiz’s current bill would require all new teachers to complete a one-year mentorship under a veteran educator and then earn three consecutive years of good evaluations to earn tenure.
For the first time, two consecutive years of bad evaluations would strip a tenured teacher of the job protection.
Teachers who wish to appeal their loss of tenure would have 30 days to do so, and an administrative law judge would have an additional 30 days to render a decision, under the bill. [emphasis mine]
If I'm reading this right, Ruiz is conceding that tenure cases can be appealed to an authority outside of a teacher's school district. That's enormous.

Because the previous version of the bill allowed for teachers to be fired solely at the discretion of their school district - a sure recipe for cronyism and corruption. If Ruiz is willing to admit that, I'd say our side has won a major battle.

There were plenty of other things wrong with Ruiz's previous bill, including the use of standardized tests and the categorization of teachers into levels, a practice there is very little research to support.

So let's wait and see what comes out. But let's also hope some sanity has finally broken through in this debate, and we're no longer cowering in the corner, scared of the Tenure Boogeyman.

YARRGGH! Please be scared of me NJ Legislators!

ADDING: Let's hope the Ruiz bill doesn't include stuff like this.

1 comment:

Galton said...

Ruiz is clever. Her bill only allows appeals on procedure!