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6-18-12 p.m. TEACHNJ ACT bill,S1455 on Tenure Reform, passed out of committee
GSCS Note: The vote to pass Senator Teresa Ruiz' S1455 TEACHNJ ACT out of the Senate Budget Committee was unanimous and bi-partisan this afternoon, with all Democrats and Republicans voting yes...this bill is on the fast track and it is believed it will pass before the end of this month, perhaps even sooner. Testimony from varying perspectives was generally quite supportive.

Politickernj – Ruiz’ tenure reform bill clears Budget panel “…Lynne Strickland of the Garden State Coalition of Schools also backed the bill, and said change after 100 years under one system is not easy.”

The Record - N.J. Senate panel OKs teacher tenure reform bill

GSCS Testimony excerpt - "...Tenure and evaluation reform are very complex and GSCS recognizes there are many relevant issues that have had to be sorted out in order to effect real change in this arena. Evaluation and arbitration processes will be critical to seeing that effective teaching and learning – with fairness to students and teachers alike – move positively ahead for all. Successful implementation, of course, will depend on a reasonable and doable approach. GSCS looks forward to working with the legislature and the administration on related regulatory issues in the near future..."

Politickernj - Ruiz' tenure reform bill clears Budget panel

By Bill Mooney | June 18th, 2012 - 2:04pm

 

TRENTON – The Senate Budget Committee released unanimously a bill to revamp teacher tenure in New Jersey.

Sponsor Sen. Teresa Ruiz, (D-29), Newark, said the bill, S1455, refutes those who said over the past several years that reforming tenure would prove too expensive and too long a process. She said this is not about eliminating underperforming teachers, but about “elevating the most important profession in the state,’’ and ensuring every classroom has the best teacher possible.

She said the compromise that occurred in the crafting of the bill did not interfere with the goal of accomplishing what she called a “historic vote.’’

“When I vote yes today I vote for great teachers,’’ Ruiz said.

Support came from education associations that have long been at odds with the Christie administration, which has repeatedly called for reforming tenure.

Barbara Keshishian, president of the N.J. Education Association, thanked Ruiz for working with them and hearing their input. She said the resultant bill will reduce the costs of adjudicating cases while protecting teachers’ due process rights. In addition, the process of adjudicating cases will be reduced to months from years.

Ruiz and Keshishian said the bill will make it harder to achieve tenure by lengthening the time needed from three to four years and by providing better first-year evaluations of teachers.

NJEA did seek changes.

“Any tenure reform should apply to all public schools, including charter schools,’’ Keshishian said.

The American Federation of Teachers New Jersey as well as the N.J. Council of County Vocational Technical Schools supported the bill that they said supports good teachers and the organizations credited Ruiz with forging an atmosphere of trust among parties that have been combative.

Lynne Strickland of the Garden State Coalition of Schools also backed the bill, and said change after 100 years under one system is not easy.

The Record - N.J. Senate panel OKs teacher tenure reform bill

June 18 pm, by Leslie Brody, Staff Writer

The Senate budget and appropriations committee unanimously advanced a bill Monday that would overhaul the century-old system for granting and revoking teacher tenure.

A series of disparate advocacy groups expressed support for the bill, which Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, has been hammering out for more than a year. Many speakers said it put children’s needs first, while respecting the due process rights of adults.

The bill requires a mentorship year, and then two good evaluations for a teacher to get the job protections of tenure after a fourth year on the job. It also says tenure cases should be heard by arbitrators rather than administrative judges, a change pushed by teachers’ unions.

Due to recent compromises, the bill no longer includes provisions to weaken the role of seniority in protecting teachers’ jobs during layoffs due to budget cuts. Ruiz had previously pushed for an end to the seniority system known as last-in-first-out but said she had to give that up to get the tenure bill passed.

The New Jersey Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, Garden State Coalition of Schools, and Democrats for Education Reform, and New Jersey Chamber of Commerce applauded the bill, along with several other groups.

The New Jersey School Boards Association said it was a step in the right direction, but expressed concern about the fair choice of arbitrators, and the loss of provisions to weaken seniority’s role in shielding jobs.

Representatives of principals also questioned whether school leaders were given enough time to do the thorough evaluations necessary for more rigorous evaluations. The Christie administration is developing a new system of evaluations, to be based half on teacher practice and half on evidence of student progress, including test scores. Some educators argue that computer models to rate teachers’ contributions to student learning are unreliable and fail to account for many factors outside classrooms that affect academics, such as poverty and English language deficiencies.

The assembly education committee advanced its own tenure bill last week. Sponsors of both bills say they hope to pass a tenure overhaul by July 1.

Email: brody@northjersey.com

GARDEN STATE COALITION OF SCHOOLS/GSCS

204 West State Street, Trenton NJ 08608

Senate Budget Committee Hearing, June 18, 2012

S1455 Ruiz TEACH NJ ACT: GSCS Supports

 

 

Good afternoon Chairman Sarlo, members of the Committee. My name is Lynne Strickland and I am Executive Director of the Garden Coalition of Schools/GSCS.  Today, GSCS represents 100 school districts and 300,000 students statewide, from Bergen County to Camden County. As a grassroots education advocacy group comprised of parents, board of education members, and school administrators, GSCS keeps its eye on quality education and school finance.

Senate bill 1455 seeks to balance overall improvement of the teaching profession with an effective system for evaluation. This is a laudable goal and objective at the same time. The GSCS believes that tenure reform is needed and is an integral, very important part of moving quality education ahead in New Jersey’s public schools.  We are pleased that this ‘how-to’ conversation has now arrived at a point of probable action.

Tenure and evaluation reform are very complex and GSCS recognizes there are many relevant issues that have had to be sorted out in order to effect real change in this arena. Evaluation and arbitration processes will be critical to seeing that effective teaching and learning – with fairness to students and teachers alike – move positively ahead for all. Successful implementation, of course, will depend on a reasonable and doable approach. GSCS looks forward to working with the legislature and the administration on related regulatory issues in the near future.

Senator Ruiz, as Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in her patient and steady pursuit of linking of meaningful evaluation with tenure reform. Her continued outreach to stakeholders has been notable.

After more than one hundred years under one system, change is not easy nor should it be. The implementation of a new system will certainly be a work in progress at times, but one that is welcome. We thank Senator Ruiz, and her staff in her District as well as in Trenton, for their steadfast efforts in seeing that New Jersey education moves a big, quality step forward for our students and educators.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment.

 

 


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828



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