“By measuring teacher effectiveness, both with professional observation, and objective, quantifiable measures of student achievement – and then by giving tenure to those with strong evaluations, and taking it away from those whose ratings are unacceptably weak. We cannot ask parents to accept failure in teachers when their children’s lives hang in the balance;
“Second, if layoffs are necessary remove the least effective teachers instead of just the most junior ones. It is time to end the system of “last in, first out,” which protects some of the worst and penalizes some of the best;
“Third, pay teachers more when they are assigned to a failing school or to teach a difficult subject. Compensation should be designed to attract and retain effective teachers where we need them most;
"Fourth, end forced placements. Teachers should not be assigned to schools without the mutual consent of the teacher and the principal. If an acceptable placement can’t be found in 12 months, the school district should have the right to place the teacher on permanent unpaid leave;
“Fifth, we should reform our process for authorizing charter schools to attract the best operators to New Jersey, to streamline the process for the best performers, to focus on our failing school districts and to encourage innovation. We must give parents and children in failing schools an alternative; and
“Last, and perhaps most importantly, establish tax credits to provide scholarships for low income students in the worst-performing schools in the state to enable them to attend a better school, either out of the district or a private school. Opportunity should not be offered to only those in an excellent school district or with parents who have the money to release their children from the prison that is a failing school. Let’s pass the opportunity scholarship act now.
The governor also declared, “It is time to admit that the Supreme Court’s grand experiment with New Jersey children is a failure (court-mandated funding of urban schools). 63 percent of state aid over the years has gone to the (poor, mainly urban) Abbott Districts and the schools are still predominantly failing.
“What we’ve been doing isn’t working for children in failing districts, it is unfair to the other 557 school districts and to our state’s taxpayers, who spend more per pupil than almost any state in America,” Christie said. “Basic human decency and simple common sense say it is time for a different and better approach.
“My proposals reflect the input the administration has received at hundreds of meetings with educators, parents and professionals around the state,” the governor said. “They are supported by independent research done at Harvard and Columbia. Most importantly, they reflect the intention we should all have: to put children first."
Christie began his proposal of no bail for violent offenders awaiting trial by telling of his meeting with Cassandra Dock of Newark who asked him if he was concerned about violence in the city.
“And she ended her question with a plea. ‘Help us,’ she said, ‘Help us,’ the governor said. He added," ask all of you to send a message that in New Jersey we are creating a place where everyone is given the opportunity to live the life they want. I ask all of you to join me in saying to Cassandra. Yes, we will help you.”
Christie proposed what he calls a bail reform package, which he said is similar to federal regulations, in which violent criminals are denied bail while awaiting trial. He said the proposal may require a constitutional amendment, which would need to be approved by voters.
“It would keep offenders with a history of violence who are a danger to our communities in jail until the time of their trial, instead of releasing them into society to prey on the public.” He added, “Do you know that if a person is arrested with a long record of violence we cannot detain that person in jail pending trial? We must release that person, regardless of how dangerous they are to potential witnesses against them or innocent members of our society. Let us amend our bail laws to allow judges to consider the factor of dangerousness to our communities before we release a violent person back on to the street to maim or kill while they await trial. This, too, is just simple common sense.”
Christie also called for reclaiming the lives of non-violent drug offenders by mandating treatment for them in an in-house, secure facility – rather than putting them in prison.