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3-5-12 p.m. Tenure Reform hearing... Christie establishes school funding task force
The Record - Newark mayor makes case for tenure reform

Politickernj - Christie forms school aid funding task force

The Record - Newark mayor makes case for tenure reform

Monday, March 5, 2012 Last Updated: Monday March 5, 2012, 2:00 Pm By Leslie Brody Staff Writer

Newark Mayor Cory Booker made an impassioned plea for the passage of a tenure reform proposal Monday saying it was a critical step toward giving children the teachers and educations they deserved.

He said that in reductions in force, the bill’s provisions requiring teacher effectiveness to trump seniority should apply to all teachers, not just new teachers.

“The urgency for change doesn’t apply just to new teachers,” he said. “The urgency for change applies to all children.”

Booker also supported part of the bill to boost principal accountability and give them the power to choose their faculty, and avoid the so-called “dance of the lemons,” in which ineffective teachers are passed from school to school because it is so expensive and time-consuming to dismiss them.

Booker came after a string a speakers, most of whom supported the bill but had reservations about details. Several expressed concern about the possibility that tenure laws might change before a new evaluations system is tested.

The first public hearing on a key bill to overhaul tenure began in Trenton Monday morning with state Department of Education officials saying they hoped reform would come with a "sense of urgency."

Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz, (D-Essex), sponsor of the "Teach NJ" bill and chair of the Senate education committee, said she hoped for a fruitful, transparent discussion on a bill she had worked on since 2009.

Her bill would require new teachers to have a year of on-the-job mentoring plus three years of effective evaluations to get tenure. A teacher could lose it after two consecutive ineffective ratings. For new teachers, the bill would also weaken seniority protections during layoffs.

The bill depends on a new evaluation system that the Department of Education is piloting.

Andy Smarick, deputy commissioner of the department, said passing the tenure bill would go a long way toward closing the achievement gap, and "trying to solve the biggest social justice problem we have."

The New Jersey Education Association, which represents most of the state's teachers, says the bill would deny teachers due process, and has suggested its own plan. Its plan would put tenure cases in front of an arbitrator instead of an administrative law judge, which the union says would speed the process.

Email: brody@northjersey.com



Politickernj - Christie forms school aid funding task force

By Darryl R. Isherwood | March 5th, 2012 - 11:53am


|Gov. Chris Christie today announced the formation of a school aid task force to specifically examine how at-risk students are counted and funded.

The task force will examine whether the use of free lunch enrollment as the measure of the at risk-population is the most efficient means to count students and will recommend a new and more efficient measure, Christie said.

The governor cited figures from the state auditor that showed fraudulent enrollment in the program as high as 37 percent and said the measure needs to be looked at and adjusted.

"While the administration has proposed increasing overall spending in education to the highest levels in state history we have to go further to make sure the resources are being used in a way that will close the achievement gap and serve those students who need it most," Christie said.

The current funding formula, Christie said, awards more aid to districts with greater numbers of at risk students. Those students are funded at rates as high as 157 percent of non-economically disadvantaged students.

"Unfortunately, we've all heard the stories of abuse and misuse of this program," Christie said. "A report by the state auditor has revealed high levels of fraudulent enrollment in the program, resulting in possibly tens of millions of dollars being misdirected or misspent in school districts based on enrollment in this program."

The task force also will examine adjustments to the school funding formula to account for artificially deflated municipal ratable bases due to tax abatements offered in certain municipalities.

The implementation of the task force follows the announcement two weeks ago of changes to the funding formula that will give less weight to at-risk students, decreasing the amount of aid they receive. That change led to a .5 percent decrease in funding to the so-called Abbott Districts and other lower income districts statewide.

Christie said he expects a report from the task force in 120 days.


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