Why N.J. teacher-tenure reform plan matters to the rest of America
Gov. Chris Christie's new proposal, unveiled Wednesday, continues the national debate over how to reform teacher tenure. Seven other states have passed or are considering similar legislation.
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“Making the awarding of tenure meaningful and connecting it to actual evidence of effectiveness certainly is good for students,” says Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the Washington-based National Council on Teacher Quality, which backs tenure reform.Skip to next paragraph
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Opponents of such reforms, such as the New Jersey Education Association teachers' union, say that New Jersey doesn't yet have evaluation systems in place that could judge teacher effectiveness fairly, especially if based on test scores. They also raise concerns that rhetoric around such laws targets teachers as if they are the cause of educational problems, creating an atmosphere that could lead to teacher shortages.
Christie’s reforms could face an uphill battle in New Jersey's Democrat-controlled legislature.
In Illinois, two major teachers’ unions actually worked with lawmakers on a bill being considered this week that would make it easier to fire underperforming teachers. The bill would require teachers to be rated as “excellent” or “proficient” for two years during the four years it takes to earn tenure.
The Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers said in a joint statement that it was “an historic piece of legislation that exists today because of everyone's commitment to putting politics aside and doing what's in the best interest of our kids.”
Meanwhile, the nation’s second-largest school system, Los Angeles Unified, announced it will begin measuring schools based on their success at raising student achievement, and will provide many teachers with access to their own scores using what’s known as value-added data, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The Times stirred up controversy last summer by publishing its own value-added database of teacher ratings. The district is negotiating with the union to include value-added measures in teacher evaluations, the Times reports.
Associated Press material was used in this report.