In response, NJEA officials appeared at the NSAB’s meeting last night even though they don’t represent Newark teachers. (Newark is part of AFT.) There, President Wendell Steinhauer issued a scathing statement expressing umbrage at Anderson’s waiver proposal to the state to bypass current tenure law. (See yesterday’s NJLB coverage below.) Her desire to use teacher effectiveness instead of seniority as a factor in deciding lay-offs, he said, is merely a reflection of the “the incompetence or malfeasance of district administrators.” Steinhauer continued, “anyone who cares about the integrity of public schools in New Jersey must unite in opposition to this unlawful abuse of power.”
From the NJEA press release:
“Now, if there are educators in Newark who are not capable of doing their jobs, the Superintendent has had an expedited but fair process for removing them since August of 2012. If she has a crisis today, it is a crisis of her own making. If she has failed to use the tenure law appropriately in all that time, then the question today is not whether 700 teachers should lose their jobs, but whether one superintendent should.
“Everyone knows she is trying to cover a budget shortfall which was created by the diversion of state funding to new charter schools. NJEA therefore suggests a moratorium on the approval of new charters until the budget situation is resolved.
“We will not stand by while this superintendent uses her failure to act over the last 18 months as an excuse to bulldoze the rights of all teachers. NJEA will fight this dishonest, illegal plan at every turn.
“We stand ready to work with anyone who wants to address the real problems in Newark. We want better outcomes for students here, and in every district in New Jersey. And we know truly PUBLIC education is the only real long-term solution.”[I need to say it: charter schools ARE public schools. NJEA knows this. It's just playing to the crowd.]
Whatever you think of Anderson, or Steinhauer for that matter, the vibrant roar of NJEA's statement reflects a renewal of the union's power and, in turn, the pallor cast on Christie appointees. The timing is kind of funny: Christie presents a state budget noteworthy by its meekness and NJEA, once his cowering nemesis, comes out like Hulk Hogan.