Playing "Who's Your Daddy" Over Tenure Reform

In a press release issued yesterday after the NJ Assembly unanimously approved Sen. Ruiz's tenure reform bill, NJEA gloats,
NJEA President Barbara Keshishian applauded the Assembly’s passage of tenure reform legislation today that closely resembles the proposal laid out by the union last fall. The 79-0 vote, following on the heels of last week’s 40-0 vote in the Senate, was the culmination of months of meetings and discussions involving legislators and education stakeholders from across the state.
In her testimony last week before the Senate Budget Committee, Keshishian noted that the bill adopts several proposals NJEA made last year.
NJEA Executive Director Vince Giordano also praised the work done by many parties to ensure that the final tenure bill lived up to NJEA’s high standards for meaningful tenure reform. “Almost two years ago, NJEA shared its vision of tenure reform with legislators and the public,” said Giordano. “In the past, in too many instances, it took too long and cost too much to dismiss a teacher charged with inefficiency.
“A significant improvement in this legislation is its elimination of judges and courts from the appeal process,” Giordano said. “Before anyone else was talking about it, NJEA proposed putting all dismissal appeals before highly qualified arbitrators.
The Star-Ledger Editorial Board reads the results differently:
What seems like common sense will finally become reality: Teachers who don’t perform well will be removed from the classroom. And for the first time, evidence of student progress — including test scores — will be central to that evaluation.
How did this finally happen? In short, because the most potent special interest group in the state, the New Jersey Education Association, was backed into a political corner.
Christie is the first governor in either party with the moxie to challenge the NJEA head-on, a fight that he won in a romp. Along with acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf, he made this a top priority.
One big caveat to the deal: To get it done, reformers had to abandon the fight against seniority rules. The NJEA insisted on that and sadly carried the day. So in cities such as Newark, which face hundreds of layoffs in the next few years, young teachers will soon be fired en masse, including even those who are gifted and hardworking.
I'm not sure why it matters. We've taken the first step towards a more child-centered, professional system, and that's something to celebrate.

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