P.O. Box 909 ● Trenton, NJ 08605-0909 ● Phone: 609.695.7600 ● Fax: 609.695.0413 ● Web: www.njsba.org/PI
CONTACT: Frank Belluscio (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mike Yaple (email@example.com)
NJSBA Supports Direction of Tenure, Seniority Reform Proposal
TRENTON, February 16, 2011 —The New Jersey School Boards Association strongly supports the direction of the education reform proposals that were announced by Acting Commissioner Christopher D. Cerf during a conference at Princeton University today.
“The Acting Commissioner set an agenda that’s ambitious—and ambitious in a positive way,” said Marie S. Bilik, NJSBA executive director. “In particular, we welcome the proposed changes in the current tenure and seniority systems.
“For more than 30 years, NJSBA has sought replacement of lifetime tenure with a system of renewable tenure based on job performance. The commissioner’s proposal would enable local school districts to make staffing decisions based on the quality of instruction, unimpeded by restrictive laws that are no longer needed.”
New Jersey’s tenure system was established in 1909. Since then, a body of statute and case law has developed which protects employees from arbitrary dismissal and discrimination. Collective bargaining, established in pubic education in 1968, also provides extensive protection to employees in the areas of working conditions, disciplinary procedures and grievance arbitration.
In addition, the New Jersey School Ethics Act and the School District Accountability Act and related regulations add to existing safeguards against patronage hiring and nepotism.
“These protections, not in place in 1909, make tenure unnecessary today,” said Bilik. “Tenure now serves as nothing more than a lifetime system of job protection that makes removal of an underperforming teacher difficult, time-consuming and expensive.
“Teachers should not fear tenure and seniority reform,” she continued. “The majority of our teachers are dedicated professionals, and state-to-state comparisons of overall student performance illustrate the high level of achievement in New Jersey.
“A key element of the proposed tenure and seniority reforms will be a fair and consistent evaluation system that is based on student performance and which will have the confidence of the teachers and the supervisors who will administer it. The Acting Commissioner stressed that development of such a system will be a key part of the reform plan.
“We look forward to reviewing the legislation that will implement these reforms,” she said.
The New Jersey School Boards Association is a federation of 588 local boards of education and includes 44 charter school associate members. NJSBA advocates the interests of school districts, trains local school board members, and provides resources for the advancement of public education.