A Moment of Appreciation, Please

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For Senator Teresa Ruiz, who tirelessly shepherded NJ’s tenure reform bill through the gauntlet of the Senate, the Assembly, union opposition, aggressive reformers, and countless interest groups.

How collegial  was the signing yesterday at a Middlesex middle school? Chris Christie sounded practically conciliatory, telling NJ Spotlight that  he signed the bill because “my decision was there was enough really good things in this bill that I was not going to allow it not to become law because it didn’t have everything I wanted” and seating arrangements placed B4K’s Derrell Bradford in between NJEA President Barbara Keshishian and AFT President Joseph Del Grosso.

Additional coverage here from The Record, the Star-Ledger, and the Courier Post. Assembly Democrats press release here. Editorial from Charles Stile here.

Of course, it’s not over. That “everything I wanted” from Gov. Christie includes ending seniority-based lay-offs,  the only reason the bill reached the Senate floor was because he dropped that demand, and Senator Joe Kyrillos (Republican from Monmouth and contender for U.S. Senate) announced that he already is planning on submitting legislation eliminating LIFO and mandating merit pay.  But maybe we place too much emphasis on that anyway. The bill, as signed, raises teaching standards, increases the importance of student growth, and allows schools to dismiss bad teachers (theoretically, at a  lower cost than the old system).

From Sen. Ruiz herself:

“I was told when I first asked staff to explore the subject matter that it was political suicide, and that I didn’t know anything about public education,” she said. “The emails and phone calls came in, and it was a moment where it was easy to give up.” 

“But you sit back and realize that you can’t just not to do anything,” Ruiz said. “The truth is this was never about giving anyone a tool to get rid of low-performing teachers. It wasn’t about headlines or setting an agenda on a national level.”  

“It was about what I thought was right and what we know, that the teacher has the greatest impact on our children and what happens in the classroom.”

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  • kallikak, August 7, 2012 @ 6:46 pm Reply

    So much for photo ops.

    Why should seniority be an issue after substandard teachers have been purged* from the system?

    Do you really think we'll get a defensible evaluation rubric that differentiates good-better-best to that degree of precision, if at all?

    *presumably in about three years

  • Technician 101, August 7, 2012 @ 10:47 pm Reply

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  • NJ Left Behind, August 8, 2012 @ 4:14 pm Reply

    Good point, Kallikak, although I suppose the idea is that there's degrees of classroom proficiency that go beyond “substandard” and “not substandard.” And, yes, the accuracy of the rubric is key, which is why it has to contain multiple measures.

    Will it be perfect? Of course not. But no other profession has perfect evaluation metrics. Why should this profession be treated differently?

  • kallikak, August 8, 2012 @ 9:05 pm Reply

    “…it has to contain multiple measures.”

    Right. And every school district in the State should custom-tweak its rubric so that when the first wave of legal challenges to tenure retractions arrives (in year three) we can have 575 unique law suits instead of one State-wide precedent.

    You really have to hand it to the crew in Trenton.

  • Bill, August 12, 2012 @ 11:25 pm Reply

    “Will it be perfect? Of course not. But no other profession has perfect evaluation metrics. Why should this profession be treated differently?”

    Meaningless rhetoric. All professions are treated differently from each other in myriad ways, including whether there are any metrics at all. Politics and journalism come to mind when I think of measuring quality.

    The question should not be whether it will be perfect (straw man), but rather whether it will be junk or whether it will do more harm than good in so many ways. Stretch your imagination.

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