Governor Chris Christie continued his all-out assault on NJEA and public education on Sept. 28 by unveiling six “reforms” that take dead aim at tenure and collective bargaining.
And despite overwhelming evidence that tying student test scores to evaluations, compensation, and employment decisions is bad policy, Christie announced the creation of a nine-member “New Jersey Teacher Effectiveness Task Force” charged with making test scores “at least 50%” of evaluations.
A contingent of NJEA representatives, led by President Barbara Keshishian and Executive Director Vince Giordano, attended Christie’s “town hall” meeting in Old Bridge, and Keshishian conducted TV, radio, and print interviews afterward lending NJEA’s perspective to the Christie proposals.
Keshishian released the following statement later that afternoon:
“Once again, Gov. Christie is attempting to do education reform without input from educators. When he tried it with Race to the Top, his unwillingness to bring educators into the process cost the state $400 million.
“Now, he is proposing reforms that are not based on good educational research or practice. What he proposes – an over-reliance on student test scores to make critical decisions from compensation to employment – is fatally flawed.
“A test-score based evaluation system will harm New Jersey’s public schools by changing the focus from teaching and learning to drilling and testing. It will instill a climate of fear and competition, instead of a climate of cooperation and collaboration in our schools. And it will not improve outcomes for students.
“New Jersey has tremendously successful public schools – the best in the nation. We should be focused on learning what works in our highest performing schools and replicating that success in our struggling schools. Though there is work to do, New Jersey leads the nation in closing the achievement gap. It is why Linda Darling-Hammond, one of the nation’s leading education researchers, lauds New Jersey’s schools as the best in the nation.
"Instead of building on that success, Gov. Christie proposes to upend the whole system, hurting students in the process.
“Gov. Christie’s attitude toward public education is clear. He has spent his entire term as governor defunding public schools and demonizing the people who work in them. But while he never misses a chance to criticize public schools or the people who work in them, public education is not even one of his top seven priorities, according to his own website.
“It is time to bring educators to the table for a meaningful discussion of how to help our lowest performing schools improve without damaging our many excellent, high-performing schools.”
Gov. Christie pushes for teacher merit pay based on students' performance - Star Ledger, Sept. 29, 2010