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10-27-11 Education Issues in the News
Press of Atlantic City - NJEA backs four-year tenure track, if mentoring is added for new teachers

Njspotlight.com - Education Department to Set Up Seven 'Regional Achievement Centers'…Satellite offices will concentrate on bottom 5 percent of public schools…”…“One of the great regrets I have is we don’t differentiate between school districts,” he said during his talk. “There are districts where the best thing we could do is leave them alone.” That comment drew the longest applause of his hour-long speech.

Press of Atlantic City - NJEA backs four-year tenure track, if mentoring is added for new teachers

Njspotlight.com - Education Department to Set Up Seven 'Regional Achievement Centers'…Satellite offices will concentrate on bottom 5 percent of public schools…”…“One of the great regrets I have is we don’t differentiate between school districts,” he said during his talk. “There are districts where the best thing we could do is leave them alone.” That comment drew the longest applause of his hour-long speech.

 

 

Press of Atlantic City - NJEA backs four-year tenure track, if mentoring is added for new teachers

NJEA backs four-year tenure track, if mentoring is added for new teachersBy DIANE D’AMICO Education WriterpressofAtlanticCity.com | 0 comments

ATLANTIC CITY — The executive director of the state’s largest teacher union said Wednesday that the union would support a system that gives teachers tenure at the end of four years, a year later than the current law requires.

But still up for debate is how long that tenure would last, and how teachers might lose it.

Under the New Jersey Education Association proposal, new teachers would spend the first year in a residency, teaching their own class, but partnered with a senior teacher. They also would get a mentor during the second year. Tenured teachers who leave to work in another district would be eligible for tenure in the new district after two years.

“I don’t want unfit teachers any more than anyone else does,” NJEA executive director Vincent Giordano said during a panel discussion of tenure and teacher evaluations at the New Jersey School Boards Association Conference at the Atlantic City Convention Center. He said while tenure has been widely criticized, it serves a valuable purpose.

“Tenure is a toxic term with the public,” he said. “But it is a system for fairness and protection. If you have a bad teacher, fire them. But don’t just remove tenure.”

Gov. Chris Christie has endorsed a system that would give teachers ranked as effective or highly effective for three years tenure in their fourth year. But they would lose tenure protection if they were ranked ineffective in one year, or partly ineffective for two years. Those teachers could remain employed and could earn back tenure through demonstrated improvement for three years.

Sen. Theresa Ruiz, D-Essex, Union, has introduced a bill that would extend the tenure process to four years, but does not include the residency provisions.

Giordano said the union did not support the four-year proposal at first. But members reviewed the issue and decided they could support a longer tenure process, if they could include more mentoring.

“If teachers get that support, a district really should know at the end of the first year if they’re going to have a keeper,” he said. He said they are willing to work on reform proposals, but there can be no reform if people just keep attacking ideas.

Acting state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, who also spoke at the conference, said he would have to hear more about the NJEA’s proposals, but he is willing to discuss them.

Cerf said during his presentation that the discussions about education reform have been politically charged and sometimes prevent progress.

“We are not blaming the teachers (for all student failures),” he said, acknowledging the effects of poverty and family life in student learning. “But all teachers are not interchangeable. A responsible evaluation system is not a ‘gotcha squad’ to fire teachers. We want a system that helps people get better. ”

Representatives of the New Jersey School Boards Association and the New Jersey Association of School Administrators said they still support a system of renewable tenure based on evaluations.

Richard Bozza, executive director of the NJASA said they would like to have teachers get renewable tenure every five years to promote improvement.

“We are not hearing enough about how you get teachers to improve,”he said. “Countries that rank high in student success also set high standards for teachers and invest in teacher training.”

Frank Belluscio, spokesman for School Boards Association said the association could support a four-year tenure process, but it would still want renewable tenure.

Giordano said the NJEA is working with state legislators to introduce school reform bills that would include their tenure proposals, along with proposals to expand preschool and full-day kindergarten to all public schools, limit class size, and mandate school attendance until age 18, rather than 16. Currently the state funds half-day kindergarten statewide and preschool in about 130 low-income districts. Giordano said the bills are slated to be introduced during the lame duck session after the November election.

Cerf said he recognizes the benefits of full-day kindergarten and preschool, but the main issue is finding the money to pay for them, something he hopes the NJEA-supported bills will address.

Contact Diane D'Amico:

609-272-7241

DDamico@pressofac.com

 

 

Njspotlight.com - Education Department to Set Up Seven 'Regional Achievement Centers'…Satellite offices will concentrate on bottom 5 percent of public schools…”…“One of the great regrets I have is we don’t differentiate between school districts,” he said during his talk. “There are districts where the best thing we could do is leave them alone.” That comment drew the longest applause of his hour-long speech.

By John Mooney, October 27 in Education|Post a Comment

The Christie administration’s reorganization of the state education department is moving out into the field, with plans to create seven “regional achievement centers” that will serve as satellite bureaus.

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Acting education commissioner Chris Cerf announced the configuration at the convention of New Jersey school boards and administrator associations yesterday, saying the new centers would help provide needed on-the-ground help to districts.

“They will be headed by, I hope, some of the best educators in the country, and they will be responsible for a very specific degree of improvement in things like graduation rates, reducing dropouts, or increasing third-grade literacy,” he said.

The focus will be on the 100 to 150 lowest-performing schools, the bottom 5 percent that has increasingly become the focus of reform efforts not just in New Jersey but nationwide.

“And they will do so in a much more intensive, organized and coherent way, with data specific to each school, each district,” Cerf said.

The process will likely take a year, he said, commenting that the new offices should not require much additional funding, since they would largely employ staff now working mostly out of Trenton.

Other details were still to be determined, including where the bureaus would be located. The hiring process for new directors is expected to start in the next few weeks.

The new offices will be the first widespread shakeup of the state’s county operations in close to a decade, since a department reorganization under one of Cerf’s predecessors divided the offices into north, south and central regions. That configuration soon broke down under budget constraints and other concerns.

Still, the latest moves do raise questions as to the role of the 21 county offices, each once led by a governor-appointed executive county superintendent. Those rolls were decimated last year, when half were not renewed by Gov. Chris Christie, and the others doubled up on their duties.

The superintendent positions were created by legislation and will remain at least in title, but Cerf said different people may be filling those slots when the current superintendents' terms expire. Either way, they will come under the new regional centers, largely serving in a regulatory and compliance role.

“The functions of the county offices, now independent, will report up to the regional centers,” Cerf explained afterward. “The budget reviews, the compliance and regulatory functions will not exist in isolation but will exist as part of a larger structure whose central mission is achievement.”

Still, Cerf stressed that beyond standard oversight of budgets and the like, the state needs to back away from higher-performing districts.

“One of the great regrets I have is we don’t differentiate between school districts,” he said during his talk. “There are districts where the best thing we could do is leave them alone.”

That comment drew the longest applause of his hour-long speech.

 

 


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