Fine-Tuning a Controversial Tenure Proposal — Quietly

The Democrats’ leading bill to change teacher tenure in New Jersey is unlikely to get another public viewing until after the election, but its chief sponsor has begun a series of private meetings to fine-tune and amend the controversial measure.

State Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) always claimed that the bill she filed this summer was just a starting point. In some of her first extensive comments on the bill since then, the Senate education committee chairman yesterday said the work to revise it has begun in meetings she started last week with stakeholders and others.

“We have given people enough time to get their hands around it and study the bill,” she said in her Trenton office. “Now we’re having open dialogue as to what stakeholders think works and doesn’t work and how to change it.”

The amendments won’t necessarily be at the core of the bill, she said, which would revamp how teachers earn and retain tenure protections. In its current version, Ruiz’s bill would grant tenure after a teacher completed four years with satisfactory reviews and take it away after two consecutive years of unsatisfactory grades.

It would also include school-based teams that would lead the evaluations and decisions on both hiring and dismissing a teacher, as well as calls for interventions and support for teachers who have subpar reviews.

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  1. I am still unclear as to how tenure benefits students, and why teachers require it. Wouldn’t it be better to treat our teachers and clerical staff like any other corporate workers?

  2. I have seen from my own experience that teachers without tenure are reluctant to advocate for a child in opposition to school administration or Board of Ed.

  3. I think mmmmmm (right number of m’s?) is correct. A teacher without tenure is more reluctant to argue with a Superintendent or other administrator about policies he feels will not benefit students. Or take bold steps in the classroom that might upset a few parents. Tenure isn’t the problem, rather, it’s teachers who don’t merit tenure but get it anyway that negatively affect education. So, I think the bill is a good idea.

    As much as the capitalist worshipers want to think that everything should be run like a corporation, they are just absolutely clueless about public education.

  4. Oh, tenure is definitely one of the problems. I’ve seen no compelling rationale for it. The argument that teachers need tenure to stand up to parents is just silly. They need a principal who will support them, not tenure.

  5. Said with such hubris. Perhaps you have seen no compelling rationale and think the argument is “silly” because you have no real expertise besides that of a parent with a child in school.

  6. And by the way, tenure is yet another scapegoat for the education “crisis” in this country. The number of people living in poverty is increasing and this is affecting educational outcomes. That’s about it. And the starting salaries for teachers isn’t so good. You want smart, competent people? Pay them more. Instead, you get crappy pay and mandates for teachers to do more–more differentiation in the classroom b/c there shouldn’t be tracking in HS, which is just ridiculous.

    But, I think the process of getting tenure should be more stringent.

  7. You want smart competent people? Create a meritocracy. One reason teaching doesn’t attract the best and the brightest is that public schools tend to be stultifying, bureaucratic workplaces. And by all means pay them more–a lot more. But too much job security is not a good thing.

    It’s certainly true that I don’t have the expertise of a teacher with tenure.

  8. I’m no expert, of course, but from what I read, the “crisis in education” is not just about kids in poverty. It’s also about national competitiveness. You see this in the poor showing of U.S. high school students relative to their peers on other countries in science and math. It may not be wise to take those comparisons literally, but it’s probably not wise to ignore them either.

  9. “They need a principal who will support them, not tenure.”

    Presumably, a principal with tenure.

    When these international comparisons are done with actual “peers”, and not selected groupings, then I’ll believe all of the nonsense about how American kids “can’t compete”.

  10. There is no other nation on earth that has made it an article of faith that ALL children, from all backgrounds, with all sorts of disabilities, etc., can and will be educated at public expense until age 16. Good people can go back and forth on the wisdom or even the practicality of that premise, but that IS the premise. The students from China, India, etc. who “compete” against American kids do not come from this type of setting. They are an elite group by definition. A cursory tour of India, for example, will soon make it quite clear that a huge percentage of young people in that country aren’t in ANY school at all. So its apples to oranges.
    I’m certainly not suggesting that everything is rosy in American education. Nor am I saying that teachers don’t have a responsibility to improve their instructional focus. Nor am I saying that tenure is a sacred system that cannot be changed.
    But I AM saying that American students, despite all of the hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing that has been going on now for at least 30 years, are by and large exposed to educational opportunities few others can access, and the result for a great many is success in later life. Do you think that folks in India or China are worrying about the preparation that little Xian Yi is getting while working on his family farm from the age of 12 on? Are we sending scores of people off to Pakistan and China to steal THEIR technology?

  11. So on the one hand, we have cro, an anonymous blogger on Baristanet–intelligent, knows a thing or two about education, close personal friends with Christopher Hitchens (whom I wish well, btw). On the other hand, we have Norm Augustine, former CEO and Chairman of a gigantic mega corporation–boss to 80,000 engineers, head of umpteen commissions for NASA and NAS and so on and so forth. Cro, what’s a boy to think?

  12. One is to think, ‘roo, that there are more things in heaven and on earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy.

    I’m sure that Mr. Augustine is a bright man. But if he’s right about everything, he’ll be the first man to be so in about 2000 years (save for Hitchens, of course!).

  13. Yes, I can confirm that my dreams do not encompass heaven and earth, but surely Norm Augustine’s do. He’s Norm Augustine! Even Shakespeare couldn’t have said as much.

    But you are funny, cro, and a good sport, I’ll grant you those things.

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