NJEA Director of Government Relations Ginger Gold Schnitzer delivered detailed testimony to the Senate Education Committee today on S-1455, a tenure bill that would essentially eliminate tenure by taking away due process rights from tenured New Jersey teachers.
“NJEA does not want ineffective teachers in the classrooms of our public schools,” Gold Schnitzer told the committee. Then, citing two main thrusts of NJEA’s proposal, she added that “the process for dismissing an ineffective teacher can – and should – take less time and cost less money.” NJEA’s proposal would replicate the dismissal law adopted 20 years ago in Massachusetts, where the courts were removed from the process and replaced with final and binding arbitration hearings.
“This system has been working in Massachusetts for years, and by the way, like New Jersey, Massachusetts is also leading the nation in student achievement,” Gold Schnitzer said.
S-1455, sponsored by Education Committee Chair Sen. Teresa Ruiz, allows districts to take away tenure after two poor evaluations, but provides no opportunity for teachers to challenge the validity of those evaluations. Dubbed the TEACHNJ Act, the bill would leave schools and teachers vulnerable to inappropriate political influence.
NJEA is opposing the bill, and promoting its own proactive tenure reform proposal, which streamlines the process but preserves due process rights to protect effective teachers from mistreatment.
One key concern of NJEA’s is that S-1455 would rely on a yet-to-be designed evaluation process to make critical decisions about teacher dismissal.
“NJEA believes that since a teacher’s career status will hinge on this new evaluation system, we ought to know and agree upon what that system looks like – and make sure it works – before making sweeping changes to the tenure law,” said Gold Schnitzer.
“Addressing tenure without a serious and conclusive discussion about evaluation is like building a house before the foundation is set,” she warned.
A comparison of the two bills highlights the significant problems with the TEACHNJ Act. NJEA has already shared this information with key legislators and legislative leaders.
The bill was heard for discussion only and is not yet scheduled for a vote by the committee.
NJEA is urging members to take action. Contact your legislators today. Share the facts about tenure on New Jersey and urge them to support NJEA’s smart tenure reform proposal that puts great teachers in every classroom and protects those teachers from political interference and mistreatment.