Christie Announces Sweeping N.J. Education Reform

Governor Ready To Test Teachers In Reading And Math

OLD BRIDGE, N.J. (CBS 2) — Determined to turn New Jersey’s education system on its head, Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday unveiled a tough-love reform package that will make classroom achievement — not seniority or tenure — the basis for pay hikes and career advancement in Garden State public schools.

Christie is turning his take-no-prisoner’s style to the classroom, demanding a top to bottom overhaul of how New Jersey students learn and teachers teach. And that means undoing tenure, seniority and other union work rules.

“We cannot wait. Your children are sitting in these classrooms today. We cannot wait to make it better,” Christie told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

Unqualified teachers will feel the lash. The governor is demanding that teachers in kindergarten through fifth grade actually pass tests in reading and math in order to be certified.

“It might lead to the firing of lousy teachers and bad principals who hurt our children,” Christie said.

The governor wants to turn the old seniority system inside out and put quality teaching ahead of lack-luster performance. He will:

* Prohibit salary scales based on seniority

* Grant raises based on classroom performance

* Give tenure based on classroom performance

“We are paying a fortune for something that is not giving our children the hope and the faith and the trust that their tomorrow can be better than their today,” Christie said.

The governor said he would appoint a task force to come up with standards to measure teacher achievement.

Educational experts applauded the governor’s actions.

“He is with excellence in education for everyone by prioritizing teachers — their brilliance, their art and their skills. We will dramatically improve the quality of education of our kids in New Jersey, particularly our neediest ones,” said Derrell Bradford, director of Excellent Education for Everyone.

The governor needs the state Legislature to approve the changes to seniority and tenure. The rest of the things he did by signing executive orders.

A spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association attacked the governor’s plan saying that once again he was “trying to implement education reform without any input from educators.”

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  • DebbieR

    Did anyone notice that in the middle of the segment CBS2 spelled tenure as tenor!!

    • kathy

      It just goes to show spelling and writing are still needed in society. “Who teaches them? Teachers. But in NJ education has no real value. I went to parochial school for 12 years and my education was not any better than public school. I teach in a wonderful public school and by the way many parochial school teachers do not have certification. Everyone who writes and reads this page was at one time taught by a teacher, so why is it that salaries do not reflect their responsibility, education and dedication. Our sanitary workers make more than teachers and those involved in stock hedge funds and casinos their services are worth so much more. What a backwards way of importance our society views contributions to the world. That was show when Christie gave millions last week to a new casino. I am sure many of his croonies were quite appreciative. Since Christie sends his children to a catholic school I wonder if he ever examines his conscience. There are many students who no longer have sports or after school activities due to his cuts and they are quite aware it is because of him. Teachers are well respected in other societies and contrary to the public thinks they can be fired and I have seen it happen. So if educating our children is not important than Christie is your man. I just wouldn’t want to be him when he finally meets his maker and has to answer what he did with his life. I am proud to be a teacher and I love going to school everyday. By the way it is 8th grade; I am sure anyone could do my job.

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  • Gary

    Not sure who did the graphics for Marcia Kramer’s story but it captures the essence of the issue and is quite ironic. At the 1:03 mark of the clip a few bullet points are added. The last one has the word “tenor”. Interesting, isn’t it, that a major market news establishment, doing a piece on education reform, has the capability to misspell the word “tenure”! Who can doubt that education needs reform?

  • wittywife

    I absolutely agree with what Christie is trying to do.

    Some of the tactics, though, I’d need to learn more about.

    For example…basing pay on classroom performance..

    I worked for 5 years as an assistant teacher (in another state.) Inclusion was huge at our school. Certain teachers were known for handling special ed students VERY well and were assigned (more than one of) them every year. Some of these kids were fairly high functioning, and some of them could barely wipe their own behinds.The teachers who didn’t have special ed students in the classroom had MUCH better test scores. Does that mean that these teachers will be paid more under this new plan? If that’s the case, then the teachers that year in year out have special ed students in their room are now going to fight it and try to have them sent to other classroom, even if they might be better off with her. How will that be compensated for in the new plan? So many people forget that with the inclusion model, children who will NEVER pass state exams or even a spelling test are included in the classroom.

    Second of all, there’s another super simple solution to ALL of this. Smaller class sizes. By a lot. Sure, it’s going to cost money. But look at Washington DC. The most money PER STUDENT in the entire country, and the schools are terrible. How about taking all that extra money, and limited class sized to 12. I GUARANTEE this will make a vast improvement. Anyone who has taught or worked in the classroom also knows this is the case. You’re just NEVER going to have decent scores or decent education if you have 20-30 kids in your class.

  • nickel

    Somehow in millions of businesses and organizations all over the world we make judgements about the competence of people who do complex tasks everyday. I am sure that the teachers who will have to prove they are competent can be judged fairly and accurately and I think that the process should start immediately.

  • Bill Chase

    Paying teachers based on merit is like paying doctors based on whether or not their patient gets better.

    Merit pay has been tried and has failed. Merit pay takes fine arts and anything else that can’t be tested out of the schools. Google it and do some research.. Our teachers are not failing. Our society and our parents are failing.

    Tenure is a wall to hide behind. To hide from irrate parents who blame the teacher when they are told their child needs to stay back or when their child get s a failing grade!

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  • sourdoughdaddy

    At Fenris Badwulf: With all the anonymous 501 c4 and 501c6 money flowing to Tea Party operatives,, you should be very careful about who you insinuate is breaking rules and who will do anything, or say anything, to get their way. Our fabulous governor Christie cut $820 million in state aid to NJ schools, then floated the possibility of state aid to developers trying to finish constructing a shopping mall. That’s a really useful way to spend my tax dollars. The whole No Child Left Behind deal is a joke. Kids need to be taught to think critically, not to fill in the right circle on a standardized test. Get a clue.

  • JAG

    I don’t understand the stated logic of these proposed changes.

    Remove seniority, tenure, and pay structure so better teachers will want to come here and teach? A great teacher will look at that and say, wow now that they are paying less, have less security, and less benefits makes me want to drop what I am doing and sign up.

    You can get rid of the bad teachers all day, but if you don’t pay well you will only replace them with more bad teachers. How offering less is going to translate into better personnel is pure fantasy. Unless of course the true objective is to just pay less period, damn the consequences.

    Pay for performance. Yeah, I can see every teacher saying, “I know where I’m applying for a job… the poorest neighborhood with the least parental support. Those are the kids I want to stake my paycheck on!” Or, even better yet, can you imagine the politics within schools when it comes time to make up classrooms for the new year? Or how long will it take before we have our first scandals of teachers giving the test answers away so they can do well and make them more money!

    The bottom line is that these changes may save some short term money, but thinking it will get you better teachers and better educated students is seriously flawed.

  • Robert

    Beth, if you want your children to be indoctrinated instead of being taught morals and ethics you can keep your kids at home and feed them a steady diet of Al Gore reruns.

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  • Anthony

    I am a teacher now in NJ. I do see flaws in the current system. However, how will anyone decide what performance is worthy of tenure or a salary increase? Also, teachers already fight over who teaches honors and who teaches the lower level courses. There is also the urban vs suburban decision teachers entering the field weigh. Surely there will be different definitions of performance everywhere you look. As for one of the comments about private out-performing public, I only have a few example to speak of, but in my experience, students that come from private schools can not handle the public school curriculum. They are even more deficient than the public school students. And yes, I agree that something has to be done, I just don’t feel this is it.

    • jackie

      To the idiot that just slammed private school system….excuse me where r u getting ur info? I have 5 children n the private school from ages K- 12 my senior just got a 29 on his ACT and the grade school just received blue ribbon for outstanding improvement in test scores….you might want to get another source for your private school facts….how ironic a public school teacher who doesn’t know jack!

  • Diane

    Maybe if the reporter and her editor knew how to spell tenure, Gov. Christie wouldn’t need these reforms. See the onscreen graphic at the 01:03 mark of this video.

  • kate

    So many generalities about teachers, but few examples to “prove” these statements.In a poor economy and in a state that has lost 800,000 people, to be replaced by immigrants, it’s easy to scapegoat. To speak to vouchers and privatization, there are more problems than benefits. To begin, someone has to apply for the voucher, so kids without an advocate are left behind. Likewise, more than 9/10 times, vouchers are for Catholic or parochial schools. This is a violation of our 1st Amendment, since public funds should not be used to support religious institutions. Imagine if the private schools which took vouchers in your area were Islamic? Would you support that? As for Christie’s policies, I disagree with him for many reasons. He is the product of public schooling, as are most Americans. Our public schools do work and that’s because our teachers are professionals who are rewarded with some, not many, incentives. The average teacher in the state makes about $50,000, not far from the national average. They are given no bonuses, no free lunches, no perks of the corporate world. Teachers are subject, clearly, to great public scrutiny, thus tenure. In all, teachers work hard, are paid fairly, care about your children, despite how they might feel about the parents, but yet are continually berated by the public. It’s undeserved and Christie and many of those who have posted on this site should rethink and redirect their anger and aggression towards other problems faced by the state.

  • Erin

    So what does America need, Beth? Hmm? One must have a solution if an absolute statement such as yours can be widely strewn about.

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  • Travis Stock

    Beth, I’m sure you consider yourself a nice person. Do you realize how bigoted your comment is? Anyway, I’m very excited for the changes that Christie is trying to make. It’s about time somebody brought a touch of reality back into the government decision making process. The only teachers who don’t like this are the ones who know they have their rank based solely on the amount of butt they have kissed. Well, they can kiss all of that goodbye. It’s time our kids got the best education America can provide. If New Jersey gets this passed, you will have the best teachers from across the nation standing in line for an opportunity to make a difference.

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  • Syrin

    blah blah blah, attack attack attack blah blah blah right wingers.

    That’s all you idiots have. Empty space, attacks, and tired old name calling.

    Meanwhile public schools fall WAY behind private schools AND the voucher program has been an overwhleming success everywhere it’s benn implemented. You all can’t defend your failed policies so you persoanlly attck the opposition in the face of objective evidence showing you how wrong you are. You libs are collectively dumber than a bag of hammers which is offensive to hammers.

    blah blah blah blah, Cut and pasted from media matters

  • Brian Garland

    “A spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association attacked the governor’s plan saying that once again he was “trying to implement education reform without any input from educators.”

    That’s because, you nimrod, it is the “input from educators”, and Teacher’s Unions, that got the education system into the mess that it’s in.

  • FedUp

    While you’re at it, impose a safe, strict, and disciplined learning environment in our schools, so that resource officers (cops) are no longer needed. How did we ever let our kids’ schools become jungles?

  • JB

    Bust Those Unions! All of them are bad. How can you trust a group of people who band together to prevent worker abuse, provide some health care and earn a living wage?! HOW DARE THEY. Trust business to put people before profits and look out for us. GO PRIVATE SECTOR! GO BP! Well, you know what I mean.

  • jt in nc

    anyone notice the PPT that CBS put up at 1:05 in the video? They spelled tenure wrong. How ironic is that? Guess the PPT person went to school in NJ.

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  • Tiffnay

    No, the problem is not BAD teachers or good teachers. The problem is the incentive structure created by a government-subsidized system. Such a system will always result in lower quality and higher costs (just wait and see what happens to medical care in this country). As a contrasting example, take an industry that has historically operated almost entirely in the free market with very little government intervention, like the computer industry or corrective laser eye surgery. Through time product quality has increased and prices have continually dropped. This is what the incentive system of the private sector produces–a higher standard of living for all.

    The point is that education is a *product*. People are being paid to produce it. The goal as a society should be to improve this product’s quality and to reduce its cost. And we know how to do this–privitization. Subject the product to free market forces that reward success and eliminate failure. It’s a simple, beautiful solution that will never be implemented due to two factions of people–those who personally benefit from the current welfare state (teachers, administrators, politicians) and the economically ignorant citizens who support them (those the KGB once described as “useful idiots”). The latter are products of the very industry they blindly support.

    Anybody who actually believes that the education issue has anything to do with children (that is, product quality) is a fool. It is solely about maintaining benefits for teachers and administrators who are, as stated previously, essentially welfare recipients. We should welcome anybody who seeks to undermine this wealth-wasting, joke of an education establishment.

  • Bill

    Tie test scores to welfare. Hold students accountable. Parents might start parenting if their money is cut.

    • nequelquepart

      Drug test every teacher as well!

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  • glenp

    they will cry racism because we know which ethnicity will excell in the reading and math and which won’t

  • Tired Ovit

    “* Give tenure based on classroom performance” No! There is no reason to have tenure at all.

  • devils advocate

    This is fine. Where is the test that qualifies parents to send kids prepared to learn?

  • stevens

    It is the teacers union that will bring down ALL unions. People focus on their kids, and as it becomes obvious to everyone it is the unions that defend the indefensible they will be exposed as the corruptors that they are.

  • Gene A.R.

    What a simplistic approach to a complex, but wonderful, process of teaching children!

  • RonSD

    This should be the step the StalinObaMao adopt for the government employees. I don’t mean all but majority of them are FREELOADERS. If Gov. Christie runs for president I will be on his team. Go get them Governor.

  • Joe

    Teachers Unions are a FREE Advertizing Agency and Advocate for the Democrat Party, paid for by the public, and brought to us by “Don’t You Care About the Children”.

    Plain and Simple, and these changes should be just the beginning.

    Tax Unions. All union dues should be taxable income.

    If unions control the members pensions, they can only spend money towards politics if the pensions are whole. Any shortages in pension percentages, and the unions Can Not spend money in politics.

    If unions donate money to specific politicians, that politician Can Not be involved in any union / city, county, or state collective bargaining. It is a conflict of interest, and must be Illegal.

    All union political activity must be supported by the rank and file.

  • what the

    But that’s how government works? Oh, keyword “successful”….

  • erp

    steve, the reason private schools don’t pay the inflated wages paid by tax payers for public school teachers and administrators is that they must rely on student fees or contributions from religious or other groups running the school.

    If the public schools were creating a well-informed citizenry, the costs might be justified, but just the opposite is happening.

  • Rajiv

    This is Conservatism – works every time it is tried

  • natb1

    Real Change.

    This is presidential material right here.

  • Steve

    Draft Chris Christie for President 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • jarjar

    “trying to implement education reform without any input from educators.”

    hasn’t worked so far…

  • Brandon

    I don’t know much about the man other than the soundbites I hear of him on the radio and the clips I’ve seen of him on Youtube – be he’s definately the sort of elected official we need in our local/state/federal government to get us back on the right track. He is setting the bar really high for conservatives.

  • nickel

    The time for tenure and defined benefit pensions is over. Teachers are no better than the rest of the working taxpayers in NJ and it is about time they faced the reality of having to do a good job to get good pay. THe tenure system has to be ended and give them a defined contribution plan like the rest of us and cut out costs. Hold the teachers that do make the grade accountable for excellence or hire new ones to replace them. THere are 16 million talented people out there without jobs. I would expect many of them would love to compete for a non union teaching position.

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