"Success has many fathers. Failure is an orphan."

That's the nub of today's celebration at Von E. Mauger Middle School in Middlesex, about an hour from now, when Gov. Christie and NJEA leaders will stand hand in hand for the signing of the Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children Act (also known as the tenure reform bill).

The bill lacks one key element that Christie fought hard for and lost: the elimination of seniority-based lay-offs, or LIFO. The bill contains one key element that NJEA fought hard against and lost: tying student growth to teacher evaluations.

Nonetheless, last Thursday Gov. Christie did a victory dance at the Aspen Institute,  telling the audience,““We just passed tenure reform in New Jersey which ties it directly to student achievement, and allows a teacher to lose tenure after having two years in a row of a partially effective rating or one year of an ineffective rating. And so we had the oldest tenure law in America. It was a 100-year-old law, never been amended. Now when you're a governor and you see a statute that hasn't been amended in 100 years, you know that means somebody's paying to not have that amended. And the people who were paying were the teachers unions.”

NJEA officials bristled: "He's taking full credit for it when in fact this bill doesn't reflect what he wanted to do," said Steve Wollmer, spokesman for the New Jersey Teachers Association. "He wanted to basically eliminate all due process laws for teachers. What's the old saying? When you're being run out of town you pretend you're leading a parade." And NJEA Exec. Dir. Vince Giordano noted, “We are happy to be invited, since we played a key role in its passage."

Never mind. As NJ Spotlight reports (also see coverage from The Record and Asbury Park Press; here’s NJEA’s press release), “the fact that a major piece of legislation won support of the entire Senate and Assembly, Democrat and Republican alike, is a significant feat. Christie’s signature will only cement the achievement, with or without everything he wanted in the bill.”

Giordano said the union was pleased to be included, as it has been deeply involved in the talks that led to the final bill. He said it will be the first bill signing of this governor that the NJEA has been invited to.

“We are happy to be invited, since we played a key role in its passage,” Giordano said. “And we will certainly be there.”

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