Assembly Education Committee Needs Some Schooling

Speaking of attempts (or not) to rein in the NJ’s public school costs, the Assembly Education Committee passed a bill yesterday, A2772, which would require “the monetary equivalent of any wage or benefit concession agreed to by a collective bargaining unit to be used by the school district to offset any reduction in force initiated for economic reasons (PolitickerNJ).”

In other words, if a school board is able to negotiate a contract that results in the district saving money, that money must go to re-employ teachers whom the district laid off to save money. Sponsored by Patrick Diegnan, Ruben Ramos, Nelson Albano, and Celeste Riley, the bill passed through committee unanimously. Here’s the actual language:
Requires that the monetary equivalent of any wage or benefit concession agreed to by a collective bargaining unit be used by the school district to offset any reduction in force initiated for economic reasons.
What to make of this NJEA-backed bill? (See here, page 6.) Public school enrollment in New Jersey is relatively stable – about 1.38 million kids, though there’s been a slight drop this year to 1.37 million. Yet according to the National Center for Education Statistics, our total staff continues to increase. In 2007-2008 total NJ public school staff numbered 161,408 people. In 2008-2009 total staff was 168,764, about a 4.5% increase. Now the Assembly Education Committee seems bent on passing legislation that would negate hard-won concessions by school districts historically hobbled by salary increases and benefits that exist in a reality-free dimension. How? By coercing districts to use any savings to hire back staff who may or may not be necessary for the purposes of providing a thorough and efficient education for kids.

No wonder we can’t afford the tunnel.