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New Jersey Bill Would Reform Teacher Tenure and Pay

New Jersey State Senator Joe Kyrillos (R- Monmouth) has introduced “The School Children First Act,” (S-2881) which intends to reform teacher pay and tenure in the Garden State.  The bill is another attempt by the New Jersey Legislature to overhaul a public education system that for years has been hijacked by the leadership of the New Jersey Education Association.  Currently teachers in New Jersey are given tenure after three years and a day of teaching, after which it becomes almost impossible to fire bad teachers.  In addition, New Jersey Public school teachers are consistently granted benefits and pay increases based on seniority with little regard for effectiveness and student achievement.

 These are the key education changes in the Kyrillos bill:

  • Teachers will be rated on four levels of effectiveness. Highly effective, effective, partially ineffective and ineffective. Half of this will be based on objective measures of student learning.
  • Tenure is earned only after three annual evaluations of “effective” or “highly effective." It will no longer be distributed based on length of employment.
  • Teachers who already have tenure and receive an “ineffective” rating for one year, or an annual rating of “partially effective” for two consecutive years, will revert to non-tenure status and could be subject to dismissal by the board of education or the school principal.
  • Teachers will not be able to be transferred from one school to another without mutual consent between the teacher and the proposed school’s principal.  This will stop bad teachers from being moved from one school to another without the school’s approval.
  • A board of education will create a compensation policy based on teacher effectiveness, the teaching staff member’s assignment to a failing school and the difficulty of their subject.

The changes proposed in this bill will help weed out poor teachers, energize mediocre teachers and reward great teachers for their consistent hard work.  The bill effectively eliminates salary guides based on the amount of years you have been a teacher and institutes a merit system.  All students deserve the best teachers possible, whether that teacher has been in education for a year or 20.  Compensation in schools should be granted based on skill not age just like any other job.  This is merely the beginning of education reform in New Jersey, but a good first step in putting students before NJEA executives.