New Jersey has it pretty tough. Violence, budget cuts and low graduating rates are the NJ DOE’s set of problems, but now they have one thing less to worry about. Chris Christie has been a thorn in the DOE’s side with budget cuts and union slashes. However, his recent proposals to link teacher salary to performance have been shot down.
TRENTON – Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) won’t allow two of the governor’s major education-overhaul proposals to get a vote, effectively killing them before they are formally introduced as bills.Sweeney said Monday that he objected to Christie’s proposals to link teacher salaries to performance and to eliminate teacher seniority protections.
“I’ve never been a fan of merit pay. I don’t believe in it,” Sweeney said. “Sometimes when you have merit pay, you have the ability to have favorites. A real hard teacher gets less money than another teacher because he or she is not the favorite.”
Sweeney and other critics say seniority protections are needed to protect older teachers from being laid off in order to save districts money on retirement costs.
He supports some of the Republican governor’s ideas to overhaul tenure, he said, but he wants to see a different method used to measure teacher performance. He did not say how he would like performance measured.
In April, Christie outlined proposals to change teacher tenure and evaluations, saying lifetime job protection for public school educators hurts children in the classroom.
The governor announced seven bills he said would be sponsored that include basing teacher evaluations equally on student performance and twice-yearly classroom observations; granting tenure after three years of effective reviews; and creating a system of merit pay that rewards teachers who work in failing districts, who specialize in hard-to-staff subjects, or whose students demonstrate measurable improvement.
Other bills would protect young and accomplished teachers from layoffs by eliminating seniority protections for veterans, allow districts to strip tenure protection from teachers rated ineffective, and make it quicker and less expensive to fire ineffective teachers.
“We can no longer afford to simply close our eyes and wish away the problems in our education system, hoping the system will fix itself,” said Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts.
The governor has accused the state’s largest teachers union of standing in the way of change, but Sweeney controls which bills are posted.
“We don’t think either of these so-called reforms are supported by reliable research,” said Steve Wollmer, a spokesman for the New Jersey Teachers Association. “We think teachers have taken enough punishment from this governor, and apparently, the Senate president agrees.”
Christie has said overhauling the state’s public education system would be his priority once the pension and health benefits were changed and the budget was passed.
Taken From Philly.com By Beth DeFalco