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.”