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New Jersey to Serve as a Model for Reforms
posted by: Alix | September 30, 2010, 04:44 PM   

New Jersey has been the talk of the education reform world for the past few months. From the tough talking, union-fighting Governor Christie's town hall meetings to Race to the Top application controversy, and the recent news of a $100 million donation to the Newark city schools by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, New Jersey has frequently made education news headlines.

After joining the Mayor of Newark on Oprah last week to advocate for more reform, Governor Christie outlined for the first time his specific plans for his education policy, particularly on the issues of teacher tenure and evaluation. Speaking in front of a cheering crowd, Christie called for removing tenure from ineffective teachers, stating that "tenure should be granted and maintained for those who show they know how to teach."

Christie assured teachers it wasn't about playing a "blame game" but rather "holding people accountable for results." Under Christie's proposal, teachers' salaries would not increase based solely on how many years they've been in the system and their post-graduate degrees, but rather on an indication that showed students' performance improved.

Christie plans to appoint a nine-member task force of education experts to propose recommendations by March on an evaluation system for teachers that would hold student achievement as one of its main quantifiers. The most effective teachers under this new system would be rewarded with merit pay and could be designated "master teachers" and given more professional development opportunities, including the chance to start new charter schools.

Interestingly, the governor of New Jersey's proposal complements a recent AAE member survey of these union-opposed reforms. Eighty percent of AAE members responding to the survey believe in this value-added system when student test scores are used as part of an evaluation system. In fact, student test scores ranked higher in evaluating teacher effectiveness, second only to administrative reviews. Much like Christie's proposed policy on tenure, survey respondents ranked years in the system last among quantifiers of evaluation.

Not surprisingly, these reforms have been slammed by the NJEA and Christie seems ready for the fight. Based on the nationwide attention the state has been given, these policies will be watched closely by the public in the months and years to come.

Will these changes make New Jersey schools a model for school systems to follow?
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written by Bob, via Facebook, October 07, 2010

Let's hope Michelle Rie can continue to do good work in DC.

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