Christie Tells Educators it’s “No Time To Be Timid”

Gov. Chris Christie has been touting a state pilot program that will implement teacher evaluations in nearly a dozen New Jersey school districts, and he urged the state Legislature to pass four bills he claims will reform education statewide, writes Terrence T. McDonald at The Jersey Journal.

New Jersey may rank near the top nationwide when it comes to per-pupil spending. But that’s not enough.

“We’re not meeting our obligation to those children and their families,” Christie said, as some of the state’s worst districts still struggle to provide students with a meaningful education

The governor said the kinds of reforms he wants have been heralded by President Obama and U.S. Education secretary Arne Duncan.

“If Christopher Cerf, Arne Duncan and Barack Obama can agree with Chris Christie, then surely, surely we can put aside any other disagreements we have and implement these reforms,” Christie said.

“It’s time for the Legislature to step up.”

In a press release, Christie outlined some of his key points for reform. For the governor, teacher evaluation should be based on multiple measures of student growth, observation of teaching practice, and use of an approved performance framework.

“50 percent of teacher evaluations will be based on objective, quantifiable measures of student learning such as standardized tests.”

On tenure reform, Christie would like to see teachers awarded tenure if they are evaluated as “effective” or “highly-effective” for three straight years. A teacher will lose tenure if they are rated “ineffective” for one year or “partially effective” for two years.

But Christie maintains that the NJEA believes that no matter how ineffective a teacher is, tenure cannot be taken away once it is attained.

When Gov. Christie’s education spokesman spoke at New Jersey’s annual teachers union convention, he joked at crowd interruptions and pledged to work with the New Jersey Education Association toward common goals, writes Matt Katz at the Inquirer Trenton Bureau.

Acting Education Former Commissioner Chris Cerf’s words, coupled with the NJEA’s recent release of its own education “reform agenda,” indicated a possible thawing in relations between the union and the Christie administration.

After the speech, NJEA executive director Vincent Giordano said his relationship with Cerf had recently “improved significantly.” There also have been “cordial, civil, and productive” meetings between the NJEA and George E. Norcross 3d, the state’s most powerful unelected Democrat and a key Christie ally in the education debate, he said.

However, Christie was less amiable. Asked if the NJEA’s new proposals were a sign of possible compromise, Christie replied:

“Don’t waste your time [reading them].”

The war between Christie and the NJEA, has defined the governor’s term. He has proposed a dramatic agenda for overhauling the school system and declared education his top policy priority, writes Katz.