Tenure Update: Time for a Photo Op?

The Star-Ledger fact-checked Senate President Steve Sweeney’s assertion that Jersey’s new tenure reform legislation “modernizes” tenure but doesn’t eliminate it.  In an interview with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer, Sen. Sweeney explained,
Well what happens is … tenure is after three years in the state of New Jersey, tenure you have a lifetime job. So if you, seven years, 10 years into the job … it was almost impossible to get rid of a teacher. Now, with the evaluation processes that we're going to have going forward, teachers aren't performing as they should be and they get bad evaluations we can move to remove those teachers much more quickly.
Politifact  applauds the Senator’s veracity (if not his syntax).  Under the new legislation, teachers still get tenure – after four years rather than three --  but consistently ineffective teachers can be fired after consistent ineffectiveness and administrative due diligence.

However, when districts have to lay off teachers due to, say, falling enrollment, the least senior teachers get the boot first, regardless of classroom effectiveness. Big win for NJEA, big loss for Christie Still, it's a big win for those in favor of tenure reform and was expected to generate a fair bit of hoopla.

However, today’s NJ Spotlight wonders when or if that hoopla will occur, given that the bill has sat on Gov. Christie’s desk for a week. How much does he begrudge the loss on LIFO? Hard to say. The bill will go into effect after 45 days anyway, with or without the anticipated signing ceremony.
Spotlight quotes Christie: “the teachers' union came to the table, and we negotiated [changes to] the tenure law that is the oldest in the country” and continues,
What he chose to highlight in the bill was interesting in itself. He played up the main thrust of the measure, that weaker teachers could now be brought up on tenure charges after two years of substandard evaluations.
But he neglected two issues that didn’t go his way. First, teacher seniority rights were left untouched as part of the political compromise. Second, language was added that prevents student test scores from being a “predominant” factor in all teacher evaluations.
Go on, Governor. Celebrate a little. It’s a solid step forward, surely worth a photo op. We’ll get to LIFO. Go ahead and hug.

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