Embarrassing Moments in School Board GovernanceMarch 18, 2013
Quote of the Day (& Why We Need Tenure Reform)March 19, 2013
Lawrence Feinsod, Executive Director of the NJSBA, remarks in a note to school board members on two bills before the State Legislature, Senate Bill 1191 and Assembly Bill 3627. (I’ve written about them here.) S 1191 disallows school boards from outsourcing non-instructional services, like transportation, cafeteria, and maintenance. A 3627 gives “tenure-like protection” to non-certificated staff, including the right to binding arbitration any time a school board wants to not renew a contract or without a salary increase.
Both bills have been approved by the Senate; the Assembly votes next.
Feinsod on 1191: “Prohibiting subcontracting is not a new idea. The unions have pushed it for almost two decades. Even in the best economic climate, the idea is a bad one.”
Feinsod on 2627:
Last summer, the heralded TEACH for New Jersey was signed into law, basing continuation of tenure on performance. It marked a dramatic change in the relationship between public school employers and certificated staff.
Legislation that moves in the opposite direction by giving “tenure-like” protection to non-certificated staff is now advancing in the Senate and Assembly…In effect, the proposal would inhibit a school district’s ability to make sound personnel management decisions. For example, if a school district faced a budgetary shortfall or a decline in student enrollment, its decision to eliminate the position of a non-teaching staff position would be subject to binding arbitration.
NJEA, NJ’s primary teacher union, refers to the Senate passage of 1191 as “another important victory.“
And here’s NJEA’s testimony on 2627:
This bill is truly about protecting employers and employees. It will help our boards of education and county college boards of trustees and it will protect our cafeteria workers, bus drivers, secretaries, paraprofessionals, and so many other employees who help make our school districts and county colleges REAL communities.
It seems unlikely to me that Gov. Christie would sign either of these bills, and equally unlikely that the Legislature would muster the 2/3 majority to override a veto. This little melodrama is more likely a stylized pander to NJEA, a bit of emoting intended to placate lobbyists who have undergone some significant losses, particularly the passage of bill that place limits on tenure and another that increase employee contributions to health and pension benefit premiums. “Hey, we tried,” the legislators could ham it up post-performance. “It’s that rotten Christie. Here’s a check for Barbara Buono’s campaign chest.”
On another level, these bills offer an example of one of the ways in which NJEA, like all teacher unions, finds itself in the uncomfortable position, per its dualistic mission, of lobbying for benefits for adults at the expense of kids.