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Christie Signs Tenure Overhaul Bill

Law extends time it takes to be granted tenure, which will be tied to new evaluation system.

Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation into law Monday that transforms the existing teacher tenure system, tying it to a teacher’s performance in the classroom and not just on how long an educator has been in the profession.

The Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey (TEACHNJ) Act goes into effective starting with the 2013-2014 school year, and was created with input from the New Jersey Education Association.

The legislation enacts three new measures:

  • Tenure will be awarded after four years rather than three. A teacher must also receive two years of “effective” or “highly-effective” ratings under a new evaluation system. New teachers will also be mentored for a year. Thirty districts are scheduled to introduce the new evaluation system this coming school year.
  • The time and cost it takes to remove educators who are repeatedly ineffective in the classroom has also been reduced. Previously, the process of removing a teacher could take several years and cost more than $100,000. Under the new system, the time would be limited to 105 days from the time State Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf receives written tenure charges. The cost will be capped at $7,500, which the state would pay. Only 20 teachers in New Jersey have lost tenure due to inefficiency charges leveled against them in the past 10 years.
  • New teacher evaluation systems will provide information on how a teacher’s students perform. Professional development strategies will be tied to those evaluations. Corrective action plans will be mandatory when a teacher receives an "ineffective" or "partially ineffective" rating. Teachers will have an opportunity to improve their rating before charges of ineffectiveness are brought against them.

“We are taking a huge leap forward in providing a quality education and real opportunity to every student in New Jersey,” Christie said in a statement. "Now is the time to build on this record of cooperation and results to put in place further reforms focused on our students by ending the flawed practice of Last In, First Out and supporting both differentiated pay and banning forced placements of teachers.”

The NJEA made “significant contributions to the final version of the law,” according to a statement on the NJEA’s Web site.

“We’re happy to have been a part of the process that created this law,” NJEA President Barbara Keshishian said in the statement. “It should go a long way to help us reach the goal of providing every child with the best teacher.”

The law has been in the works for two years. It received bipartisan support from state legislators.

"With this historic signing we are revamping a century-old tenure law and creating fundamental changes that will help to ensure our students have the best leaders in the classroom," said state Senator Teresa Ruiz, one of the bill’s main sponsors and chairwoman of the Senate’s Education Committee. "It demonstrates that no matter what side of an issue you are on, when people are truly willing to work together–and to continue to work regardless of the disagreements that may take place–extraordinary things can happen." 

It is the second major overhaul of a state education policy signed into law in the past two years. Christie into law in January 2011.

Sick of it All August 15, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Those in the teaching profession seem to have absolutely no frame of reference with respect to other professions. I say this because when you have three months off every year and are able to earn in some cases six digit salaries with pensions and other benefits AND, if tenured, literally cannot be fired, you simply do not understand the pressures of those who pay your salaries. I have no doubt that many in the teaching profession are wonderful people, but some aren't and some merely ended up there in order to benefit from the perks that go with being a teacher.
Mike August 15, 2012 at 04:07 PM
@Sick: Totally agree. Despite the median salary of about $59K statewide (for someone with close to a master's and about a decade of experience), too many classroom teachers are at or about the $100K mark. Compensation for teachers and other public servants should be paid based on the lowest salary and benefits among the town's taxpayers. Remove all protections and due process - which private sector workers don't enjoy. Pensions are a relic of the last century, so those gotta go. Eliminate the 403(b) matches and bonuses. Health care premiums should be at LEAST 50% paid by employees. Implementing a 260-day school year will dramatically reduce expenses for working parents who don't have to fund camps and other activities in the summer (however, vacation time must be offered to students and their families, and teachers must accommodate this in their lessons). And to your final point, I agree: no one should take a job to benefit from the perks.
Mike August 15, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Even if not unionized, most education jobs (unless you're a very unique college professor like a retired Treasury Secretary) have pay tied to education and experience. The few Catholic school teachers I know, for example, make between about $23K and $35K per year (imagine taking $15K in health coverage out of that). A friend who worked at St Patrick's in Elizabeth loved the discipline but hated the pay. Check this out: http://www.teachersunionexposed.com/state.cfm
Ridgewood Mom August 15, 2012 at 10:13 PM
We should beat them until morale improves!
Ridgewood Mom August 15, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Yes, and investors should not invest to make money. They should do it only for the love of giving.

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