NJ Tenure Reform Update

No doubt this is old news to many of you, but yesterday, in a vote of 40-0, the Senate approved Sen. Teresa Ruiz’s tenure reform bill. Here’s coverage from NJ Spotlight, Star-Ledger, and Courier Post; also see NJ School Boards Association's overview (infused with some grumpiness about the retention of seniority-based lay-offs) and NJEA's  discussion. which makes an admirable attempt to resist gloating and largely succeeds. Here's my big-picture take.

The current version of the bill, which deleted the sections on ending seniority-based lay-offs and mutual consent, was endorsed by NJEA. A key moment in negotiations over the bill was Gov. Christie’s decision to step back on an ultimatum that the bill must eliminate LIFO.
There’s something in the complex bill to make everyone unhappy – which most likely means that it’s a very good bill.

One potential glitch – which seems well on its way to resolution – is that Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan has another tenure bill out there, one preferred by NJEA. But, reports Spotlight,
Ruiz met yesterday for a half-hour with state Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex), the Assembly’s education chairman and sponsor of that bill, to work out differences.  
In the end, the two agreed to a single bill, they said, with much of Ruiz’s version prevailing in the Assembly bill. The changes from her bill were mostly in some of the more technical details of implementation.  
Diegnan said he would move a new bill in the Assembly as soon as today, with a full Assembly vote on Monday. The Senate would then have one more vote on a final bill.
Diegnan’s bill proposed that teachers would lose tenure after two years of the lowest possible rating, but he deferred to Ruiz’s proposal, that teachers would lose tenure after two years of the two lowest rankings. There’s also a little give on Sen. Ruiz’s part regarding how closely student test scores are tied to teacher evaluations and on time lines for resolving tenure charges.

However, Sen. Ruiz’s bill is mostly intact. The bill should clear the Assembly next week.

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