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7-11-12 Education Issues in the News
NJ Spotlight - Christie Touts Bipartisan Tenure Reform Bill, But Still Hasn't Signed…Governor downplays what didn't go his way, teacher seniority and closer ties to student test scores

Star Ledger - Memo: N.J. revenue for last fiscal year is $200M short of Christie's revised projections

NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Education…School choice is off the docket, but interdistrict choice is up for a hearing

NJ Spotlight - Christie Touts Bipartisan Tenure Reform Bill, But Still Hasn't Signed…Governor downplays what didn't go his way, teacher seniority and closer ties to student test scores

Star Ledger - Memo: N.J. revenue for last fiscal year is $200M short of Christie's revised projections

NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Education…School choice is off the docket, but interdistrict choice is up for a hearing

 

 

NJ Spotlight - Christie Touts Bipartisan Tenure Reform Bill, But Still Hasn't Signed…Governor downplays what didn't go his way, teacher seniority and closer ties to student test scores

By John Mooney, July 11, 2012 in Education|Post a Comment

Gov. Chris Christie is sounding more and more like a man who will sign New Jersey’s tenure reform bill. A week after it landed on his desk, however, the questions remain when and with what adds he may have.

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The governor’s office has been quiet on what happens next to the bill that unanimously passed both the Senate and the Assembly in the waning days of June, his staff only saying he continues to review it.

But few doubt he’ll sign it, especially since the governor himself has been touting the bill as a model of bipartisanship, most recently before a national audience on Monday at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

“For the first time in 100 years, we have reform to our teacher tenure laws,” he said at the liberal-leaning think tank.

The governor, in a broad-ranging policy speech, used the opportunity to take another dig at the New Jersey Education Association, reiterating his familiar refrain that the teachers' union spent more than $20 million in media campaigns against him over the last two years.

Still, the governor also described the union as a willing partner in the deal eventually reached under the bill sponsored by state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex).

“Two years of doing [attacks], guess what happened: the teachers' union came to the table, and we negotiated [changes to] the tenure law that is the oldest in the country,” he said.

What he chose to highlight in the bill was interesting in itself. He played up the main thrust of the measure, that weaker teachers could now be brought up on tenure charges after two years of substandard evaluations.

But he neglected two issues that didn’t go his way. First, teacher seniority rights were left untouched as part of the political compromise. Second, language was added that prevents student test scores from being a “predominant” factor in all teacher evaluations.

‘We’re putting accountability back into the system,” Christie said. “Student test scores must be accounted for in those evaluations, as well as peer review. And now principals and superintendents will have the opportunity to manage their school systems in a way that allows them to put their students first and put the best possible teachers they can find at the front of that classroom."

“Imagine that, and that was accomplished also in a bipartisan way, with Republican and Democratic votes,” he said. “It took a two-and-a-half-year fight, but we accomplished it two weeks ago.”

But for all the positive signs, there remains little indication as to when he will sign the bill and what he may want to add.

His spokesman said yesterday that the office for now would let the governor’s comments speak for themselves. The timing isn’t all that critical, since the law wouldn’t go into full effect until the 2013-2014 school year.

However, even in voting for the bill, Republican legislative leaders have not hidden their own displeasure, especially with the compromise on seniority, and that has raised the question as to whether Christie will express the same misgivings.

A spokesman for the NJEA, Steve Wollmer, said there were early rumors that the governor would not do anything for the required 45 days, and let the bill become law. But Wollmer said he now expects a public event.

“It would be silly for him to go around the country saying how great it is and not sign it,” said Wollmer. “Not sure what he’s waiting for, but he has 45 days."

And Wollmer, the NJEA's communications director, predicted it probably wasn’t the last from Christie on the topic of seniority. “I can see him using the signing as a springboard for taking on the seniority issue again,” he said.

 

Star Ledger - Memo: N.J. revenue for last fiscal year is $200M short of Christie's revised projections

Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 12:41 PM Updated: Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 6:28 PM

By Jarrett Renshaw/Statehouse BureauThe Star-Ledger

TRENTON — Revenue collections for the fiscal year that ended last month are likely to come in about $200 million short of the Christie administration’s most recent estimates, according to a memorandum from the Office of Legislative Services that was obtained today by The Star-Ledger.

While the projected shortfall is relatively small when compared with last year’s $29.6 billion budget, the state could be forced to dip into its meager surplus and undercut Gov. Chris Christie’s contention that the state can afford to deliver a tax cut.

If the preliminary figures sent by the nonpartisan office to lawmakers last week hold up, revenue collections would be about 2.4 percent — or $714 million — short of Christie’s initial expectations included in his spending plan for the last fiscal year.

The disappointing figures also indicate Christie will have to generate about 9 percent in additional revenue to meet the spending obligations included in the $31.7 billion budget he signed less than two weeks ago.

A spokesman for the governor’s office said collections in the big three revenue streams — income, sales, and corporate business — are up a combined $85 million over the administration’s revised May estimates.

Still, Democratic lawmakers said latest batch of bad numbers provided proof that their wait-and-see approach to Christie’s hotly sought tax cuts were responsible and prudent.

"The numbers are not surprising, but still troubling," Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson), chairman of the Assembly budget committee, said. "This shows that putting the tax cuts on hold and waiting to see if the economy rebounds was the right thing to do. We hope it does."

But a Christie spokesman, for the second time in recent weeks, accused Office of Legislative Services of pandering to the Democrats who control the Legislature by jumping to conclusions before the state officially closes it books on the budget.

"First, it’s not shocking that, once again, OLS jumps the gun with a hasty and speculative analysis that takes a dour view of revenue figures in order to serve the agenda of Corzine Democrats in the legislature," the spokesman, Kevin Roberts, said. "It’s that simple. Despite the panicked estimates offered in the Rosen memo, reality is a completely different story."

The office said it provided the assessment at the request of lawmakers.

 

 

NJ Spotlight - Agenda: State Board of Education…School choice is off the docket, but interdistrict choice is up for a hearing

By John Mooney, July 11, 2012 in Education|Post a Comment

Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012

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Time: 10 a.m.

Place: NJ Department of Education, 1st floor conference room, 100 River View Plaza, Trenton.

What they are doing: A month after a lively meeting, things cool down at the State Board this month, with mostly routine matters on its agenda. There will be a policy report on early education and preschool, and final approval of new regulations for the state’s inter-district choice program. Previous plans for discussion around charter schools and new regulations on the schools have been postponed until August.

Board election: The board will hold its annual reorganization, and president Arcelio Aponte and vice president Ilan Plawker are expected to win their members’ votes of confidence for another year in leadership. The board has seen a big turnover in the past year with new appointments by Gov. Chris Christie, but Aponte -- a Democratic appointee from 2005 -- was nonetheless uncontested in retaining his post.

The other choice program: Although charter schools are off the agenda this month, school choice of a different kind will get a hearing. The Christie administration will complete its proposed regulations for the state’s interdistrict program, the first changes since the program vastly expanded two years ago to include more than 70 districts and 3,300 students.

Not all are thrilled: While the program has clearly grown in popularity, that has also brought some concerns about how it is being monitored and what flexibility is provided districts. For instance, superintendents from two districts in the program testified last week that some accommodations should be given to reject students with records of absenteeism or discipline problems. They also said the new regulations may need to be more precise in granting the state powers to accept or reject participating districts.

State’s response: State officials responded to the concerns in the final proposal before the board today. Among its answers is that a district cannot, by law, base admission on a student’s disciplinary record.

 


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