Question of the day: does it matter?
Today’s the deadline for local school boards to submit applications to the NJ DOE in order to garner federal funds from the Race To The Top competition. There’s no count yet on how many N.J. districts threw caution to the wind and signed on the dotted line despite NJEA’s adamant refusal to be part of a program that could funnel hundreds of millions of dollars in education aid to N.J. Word is that Executive County Superintendents are advising districts to sign, and the only reason not to do so is fear of union reprisal. (Okay, okay. There was no time to properly study the proposal only released a week and a half ago, but local board approval can be retracted at any time.)
At any rate, NJEA is catching flack for its obstructionist stance. Here’s an editorial from the Asbury Park Press:
The New Jersey Education Association is either blind to how defensive and self-serving it appears to the citizens of New Jersey. Or it just doesn’t care.
Either way, the latest example of its teachers-come-first mentality is stunning.
The NJEA, which is constantly reminding everyone how underfunded the schools are and how underpaid its teachers are, is objecting to the state’s decision this week to pursue a $400 million “Race to the Top” federal education grant, a major initiative of the Obama administration to encourage innovation and reward success in the classroom
After years of political pandering to the NJEA in Trenton, it will be refreshing to have a governor who is more interested in seeking creative ways to educate children than placating the teachers’ unions.
From the Star-Ledger Editorial Board on NJEA’s instructions that local units to refuse to sign their district’s RTTT application:
That’s just plain reckless. The NJEA refuses to embrace any approach to evaluating teachers that does not conform with the status quo. And with the state facing a huge budget shortfall, it’s foolish for a teachers union that cares about the education of New Jersey children to handicap the state’s chances of getting millions in much-needed federal aid for education.
With the Jan. 19 deadline approaching for the competition’s first round, the union needs to give the state education department’s proposal a try. If the NJEA really cares about improving education and seeing real change, it will get on board. Leaving the money behind benefits no one.
From The Record:
With the New Jersey Education Association rejecting the state’s attempt to get Race to the Top grant money from the federal government then it better have a concrete alternative for school reform. Change is needed to improve the state’s underperforming school districts. This is an unprecedented opportunity to receive up to $400 million to help shape our education system… Rejecting Race to the Top isn’t the answer right now. The NJEA should embrace the chance to help the state create the best program it can.
While we’re not privy to the strategic planning within NJEA’s interior offices, its decision to undermine N.J.’s chances for federal cash seems to have back-fired in the public relations skirmish. But maybe NJEA doesn’t care. It owns most of the Legislature. It’s rolling in revenue from dues – over $100 million per year. While Randi Weingarten at the AFT has declared herself open to reforms to tenure, such a concept is anathema to an organization averse to measurement of competence. The open question: will the execs at NJEA target Education Commissioner-Nominee Bret Schundler, well-known for his advocacy for school choice and school reform, and belabor beholden legislators to stymie his nomination? It’s the first meaningful test of whether N.J. moves beyond a failing educational status quo.