“Good teachers will do very well under this system,” Christie was quoted as saying in The New York Times, adding that it was “a great day for good teachers.”
Christie, who signed the bill at a school in Middlesex, didn’t get everything he wanted however. Seniority still will play a role in the law, which was proposed by a bipartisan coalition in the Democratic-controlled Legislature and was passed by a unanimous vote in June.
The Republican governor has long campaigned to get rid of the long-standing “first-in, last-out” process. And even as he signed the new law, he continued his push for more changes.
“Now is the time to build on this record of cooperation and results to put in place further reforms focused on our students by ending the flawed practice of last in-first out,” Christie said in a statement, CBSNewYork reported.
The teachers unions helped shape the law, which changes the amount of time it takes for teachers to achieve tenure from three years to four. Teachers must work under the eye of a mentor for one of those years.
Also, teachers must be rated “effective” or “highly effective” in at least two years. Once achieving tenure, teachers who don’t maintain the high ratings for two straight years will find their status in jeopardy.
According to state education officials, only 20 teachers were fired for inefficiency in the last 10 years, .
Barbara Keshishian, president of the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest union, told WCBS radio 880 reporter Peter Haskell that the new law “maintains [teachers’] due-process rights and their rights of fair dismissal.”
Of working together with the unions to devise the law, New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf told the Times: “This proves that education reform need not be a partisan issue.”
—JOE GREENE, NEW JERSEYNEWSROOM.COM