As the discussion over tenure reform legislation in New Jersey gains focus, Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-18) – who chairs the Assembly Education Committee – has introduced a proposal that makes the process faster and less costly while protecting teachers and schools from political interference. Diegnan’s bill also changes how teachers are evaluated, making those evaluations more frequent and tying them more closely to earning and keeping tenure.
Diegnan’s bill lengthens the time before educators earn tenure to four years. It also shortens the time needed to remove ineffective teachers by removing tenure cases from the court system and placing them before highly qualified arbitrators who can hear and rule on cases more quickly and at a fraction of the cost of a court case.
“We welcome this bill to the debate,” said NJEA President Barbara Keshishian. Senate Education Committee Chairperson Theresa Ruiz (D-29) is also preparing tenure reform legislation. “Now we can have an open public discussion about the best way to reduce the time and costs associated with the current tenure system while maintaining reasonable safeguards against politics infiltrating our classrooms.”
“We will continue to work with all legislators who are interested in this issue to come up with a solution that preserves the quality and integrity of our public schools,” Keshishian added.
In an op-ed published last year in the Newark Star-Ledger, Keshishian pointed out that well-conceived tenure reform “gives districts a clear and reasonable way to remove ineffective teachers, but it also protects teachers and taxpayers from the pernicious influence of politics and patronage in the classroom — the very reason that New Jersey instituted tenure a century ago.”
“I am confident that NJEA’s members will stand with us in supporting smart tenure reform,” Keshishian said.