Christie says education reform will give parents choice

JACKSON – Gov. Chris Christie said his education reform proposals are intended to give parents more school choice and to change a tenure system that even a former teacher sitting in the audience at Tuesday’s town hall here described as “antiquated.”

While Christie said he believes tenure is necessary to prevent politically-motivated dismissals of instructors, he said the way it is earned needs to be changed drastically.

Former teacher and principal Michelle Campbell asked “how can we rid ourselves of this outdated…” and then the audience started cheering before she could finish asking her entire question.

Christie asked in what other job could you work three years and one day and “have a job for life.”

He joked that only weathermen have less accountability than teachers. “Those S.O.B.s tell you it’s going to snow (really heavy) and you wake up, there are 2 inches on the ground,” he said to laughter.

He then explained his model for teachers to earn tenure will be based on an evaluation of their first three years on the job measuring their effectiveness. The evaluation would be based 50 percent on student performance, such as test scores, and student grades and 50 percent on teacher “practices,” which would look at such things as how well they incorporate technology, and prepare lessons, among other things.

They would lose their ability to have tenure if for one  year they are deemed ineffective or deemed “partially ineffective” for two years.

Christie also highlighted other proposals, such as getting rid of the “last in first out” approach to dismissing teachers, many of which are the most promising workers, and doing away with forced placement of teachers in schools where principals would rather not want them.

“The first ones to go are the young enthusiastic teachers,” he said, about the present practice of how layoffs work.  

Christie unveiled his education proposals with acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf  last week.

  Christie says education reform will give parents choice