NJEA Reform Proposals Get Panned

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Charles Stile of The Record:

New Jersey’s embattled teachers union’s new “vision” for public education could best be summarized this way: “We’ve taken a hard look at this issue and you know what? We kind of like the way things are, thank you very much.”

The New Jersey Education Association’s list of reforms – unveiled Tuesday by its president, Barbara Keshishian, in a monotone, State of the State-length speech, sans applause lines – was at its heart a Declaration of Defense of the Status Quo.
But the policies Christie supports are no longer the fantasies of right-wing ideologues. They are the policies of Change Agent Barack Obama or Cory Booker, the social media mayor of Newark.

They are the policies of African-American and Latino parents, reliable Democratic voter blocs, but who don’t want to send their kids to failed, status quo urban schools. They want choices. They want to talk about the very things the NJEA is unwilling to talk about.

The Courier Post quotes New Jersey School Board Association’s Frank Belluscio:

“We need a fair and consistent evaluation system going forward. It shouldn’t be that complicated to remove an ineffective teacher from the classroom, but it is. Tenure only serves as an obstacle for school districts to put the best people in the classroom,” he said.“What we would propose is renewable tenure in which teachers would work under contracts of three to five years and at the end of the contract, a decision is made on extending employment and tenure based on job performance. That’s closer to how the rest of the world operates,” he said.

In The Lobby reacts to NJEA’s insistence that our current tenure system’s only flaw is the long time line between a district’s filing of tenure charges and a judge’s decision. (For context, see yesterday’s PolitickerNJ, which explains that “Executive Director Vince Giordano said the union does not believe that the complaints about tenure include the “fairness” of the process, but rather the time involved in removing a teacher.”)

Of course, the fact that the NJEA still believes the tenure system works, when everybody knows it doesn’t, was probably a clue that their proposal would be more show than substance.

But the fact that the NJEA felt compelled to come up with a competing plan shows just how much the debate in Trenton has changed.

Now the question is whether the Legislature will choose to hide behind the NJEA smokescreen, or move ahead to fix the system.

And here’s none other than Bob Braun of the Star-Ledger on how NJEA is “trying to convince the world it isn’t really a union” and

then proceeded to make matters worse by calling for expansion of the scope of collective bargaining to make issues like class size and textbook selection part of labor negotiations… Keshishian’s comments ran aground on this issue. “Collective bargaining,” she said, “has benefited the quality of our public schools and research shows quality public schools are a primary driver of high property values.”

What? Labor talks mean higher property values? She said a broader scope of bargaining would lead to educators being held “responsible for education reform initiatives.” But how would a union, or its members, be held accountable by the public for the results of bargaining? The lack of logic results from feverishly trying to marry policy to bare-knuckles bargaining.

Herald News:

IT WAS billed as “significant reform.” But the New Jersey Education Association’s tenure reform proposal is an uninspired tinker…the proposal introduced by NJEA President Barbara Keshishian Tuesday does nothing to answer the murky question of how to separate poorly performing teachers from the pack. And so it falls tragically short of any real attempt to engage in the widening public debate about tenure and the lifetime job guarantee it has become.

Fred Snowflack of The Daily Record:

The New Jersey Education Association set forth reform proposals Tuesday about tenure and other matters, including collective bargaining. Here is what one line said:

“NJEA will make the case that collective bargaining has benefitted public education as a whole and is a driver of high property values.”

Hmm … A driver of high property TAXES would be more like it.

Daily Record Editorial Board:

After being lambasted by Gov. Chris Christie as a greedy public union for months, the New Jersey Education Association on Tuesday came out with a proposal to change teacher tenure laws in the state.

It should try harder. The NJEA’s proposal fails to question whether teachers should get tenure after three years, as they do now, or even if tenure should exist.

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1 Comment

  • in-this-guise, December 10, 2010 @ 1:27 pm Reply

    Just last week I was told “it’s a good thing you have tenure, if you didn’t you’d get fired for this.”

    My horrible crime? Giving a board member’s student the D grade that he’d earned. After lengthy discussion with the parent, extra credit work offered, essentially bending over backward to help the student earn a higher grade, he did NOTHING.

    But I should smile and nod when the NJSBA says “trust us, you don't need tenure.” Please!

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