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

Friday, August 9, 2013

@NJEA Tenure Proposal Is Working!

Let me be the very first to congratulate the NJEA, New Jersey's largest teachers union, on their policy triumph!   
Jersey City public-school teachers have not fared well under the state’s tenure overhaul, which Gov. Chris Christie signed into law one year ago this week.
Under the new rules, which allow an arbitrator instead of a judge to make an essentially final decision on whether a tenured teacher can be fired, four Jersey City teachers have been fired based on arbitrators' rulings.
Three of the four were terminated because of excessive absenteeism, with one School 23 teacher missing 338 days from 2002 to 2011, according to the arbitrator’s ruling. A School 20 teacher missed 600 days, about 10 percent of her 37 years with the district, the arbitrator in that case wrote.
All four terminated teachers taught special education, and most were taken to task by arbitrators for their behavior. In one instance, an arbitrator said the teacher was "a disruptive force in every school she was assigned to."
The new rules, which were supported by the powerful state teachers union and hailed by Christie, speed up the process used to fire a tenured teacher. Before, it could take a year for a district to terminate a teacher; now, the arbitrator’s decision must be delivered in 90 days. [emphasis mine]
Let me correct two things here: first, that opening paragraph is just ridiculous. Jersey City's teachers are doing great under the new tenure rules; ask the local union president:
Ron Greco, president of teachers union the Jersey City Education Association, said he hasn’t heard any complaints about the new tenure system from teachers. Overall, Greco said, he supports it.
“My opinion, I think the quicker the better,” he said. “Expediting the process is the right way to go.”
Nobody wants to work with people who aren't carrying their load. Since the new system is getting rid of the dead wood faster than before, teachers have a better work environment. Further, Greco's own job as union president is made easier: he doesn't have to waste his time with long, protracted tenure cases. The teachers in JC are "faring" very well, thank you very much.

Second, let's get this clear once and for all: the new tenure rules weren't "supported" by NJEA, they were written by NJEA! As I blogged a year ago:
NJEA: The teachers union put out a tenure plan in November of 2011. Pretty much everyone agreed with their provision to add a "mentor year" to the existing three years it takes now to earn tenure, so there was little controversy over that.

NJEA's proposal was more notable for what it didn't call for. It didn't agree to end seniority, or end salary guides. It didn't call for merit pay mutual consent. It didn't say a teacher could lose tenure without a hearing before a third party.

All of these were on the table. None survived the final bill.

Does all this mean the NJEA can claim victory? Well, on seniority, mutual consent, merit pay, salary guides, and due process, it's clear that they can.

But there's one area where they cannot claim a clear victory: the use of standardized tests in teacher evaluations. Then again, neither can Christie and the reformyists - this is a battle yet to be waged.
Yes, we still have a long battle ahead over test-based teacher evaluation - but none of these JC cases had anything to do with that. NJEA proposed making the tenure case system faster, easier, and cheaper. They got what they wanted, and now the evidence is coming in that it works: for teachers, for districts, and for the union itself.

This lesson here is that good things happen when educators lead the way in making education policy. Too bad that didn't happen with the test-based evaluations starting this year. If the state board and the NJDOE had involved the NJEA, they could have avoided the inevitable disaster that looms over us all...

Coming this fall:
AchieveNJ, aka Operation Hindenburg.


Mrs. King's music students said...

Did you say one teacher missed 600 days and 37 years later the NJEA said "step aside Chris we've got this"? Sounds about right.

Mrs. King's music students said...

Sorry for posting twice in a row-this is too good to pass up. Four JC teachers miss hundreds of days of school while their colleagues pick up their share of the load, underserved kids pay the price for up to 37 years, and their principals and union reps stand by and do nothing. Then, right when they need representation most, their president doesn't call a single principal to account or demand to know what steps were taken to bring these teachers into compliance. Instead, he hands the whole kit and kiboodle over to state appointed adjudicators and chirps "this makes my job easier!".

giuseppe said...

This teacher that missed 600 days in 37 years, did she have serious health problems? Why didn't the principals and the administrators cite her earlier in her career, what was their problem? She must have documented all her absences? When I was teaching, if you were absent more than a few days, you would have to document and justify your sick days, otherwise you were in trouble. We were allowed 10 paid sick days per year. It is not the job of the NJEA to do the job of the principals or the administrators, they are the ones who are there in the school and who observe the teachers, not the NJEA. The NJEA has no responsibility for a teacher that is abusing sick leave. What if a teacher does have serious health problems, do they just get fired for being too sickly?

giuseppe said...

The NJEA did NOT ask that teacher to stand aside. That whole business was up to the principals and administrators who take care of personnel matters. When I was teaching, I had a few health problems that knocked me out of the classroom for a couple weeks each time; pneumonia one time and how to put it delicately, I had blockage of the urinary system and could not void. I had to produce the doctors notes, I had to be in contact with the substitutes for the whole period which was damn hard when you're recovering from pneumonia and in the other case I was catheterized, no fun. Most of the times, I returned to school, not wholly recovered from various flus and colds because it was hell to get the class back on track after an illness and one or more substitutes. I would have much rather been in the classroom than have been sick.

Unknown said...

Sorry, Jazzman, but I have to call you and Greco down on this....first of all, the NJ.com and the school district had no right to reveal the name of the teacher...if she was defending her rights under HIPA, then she can sue both the paper, school board, and Greco. The union has thrown teachers under the bus AGAINS...except this time its not the AFT, but our own NJEA/HCEA/JCEA hierarchy. Why isn't something being done about the lousy principals that thrive in JC? Hey Ron,why don't you go after the principal at Infinity...or at 41?

Unknown said...

One more thing...Ron is nice young man, but he is a babe in the woods compared to the jugganaut that he will face during contract negotiations. He also is lying... saying that "he hasn’t heard any complaints about the new tenure system from teachers.s" If you look at the JCEA Facebook pages (there are several), you will seen a number of teachers who have filed complaints already about the new tenure/eval law...and its not even September 5th yet!