Just about every soccer parent can recall a time when the coach shouted out “Good idea!” from the sidelines after a player passed the ball to an open teammate or defended a position as instructed.  It’s positive reinforcement.

Unfortunately, in the game of lawmaking, public interest advocacy sometimes requires just the opposite approach.  We are in that situation today.

On Monday, the Assembly gave final legislative approval to two union-backed initiatives that are bad bills, bad public policy and simply bad ideas.  Both pieces of legislation are now on the Governor’s desk.  We urge Governor Christie to veto both of them.

Binding Arbitration S-2163/A-3696 would extend tenure-like protection to non-certificated staff, such as teacher assistants, bus drivers, security guards and cafeteria aides.  It’s an odd idea at an odd time, given the recent advances in teacher accountability reflected in the TeachNJ tenure reform act and other initiatives.  It’s also a dangerous proposal that would erode the public’s authority, through the local school board, over the management of its schools and would impose burdensome and expensive administrative procedures.  In addition to putting handcuffs on board members and administrators, monies would need to be taken from our classrooms in order to pay for the many “personnel actions” that this proposal would create.

S-2163/A-3696 would also subject economic decisions, such as a reduction of non-teaching staff due to a budgetary shortfall or enrollment decline, to binding arbitration.

Costly Anti-Subcontracting The other “bad idea” represented in Senate Bill 968 is nothing new.   For almost a generation, NJSBA has successfully stopped similar union-backed legislation that would restrict local school boards’ ability to subcontract non-instructional services, such as cafeteria, maintenance and transportation.  The subcontracting option can be an economic lifesaver and one that enables school boards to direct limited resources to the classroom, the purchase of instructional equipment and property tax relief.

Well, here we go again.  S-968, which passed the Assembly on Monday, would establish an onerous bureaucratic process and impose so many restrictions on school boards that it would essentially eliminate any savings that could be achieved through subcontracting.

Contact the Governor Today The governor has 45 days to veto legislation before it automatically becomes law.  So right now, the most important step for every school board member is to urge Governor Christie to veto both of these attacks on sound public policy.  Messages should be sent to the Governor at www.nj.gov/governor/contact.  You can obtain information about the damaging impact of these proposals in NJSBA’s sample resolutions on the subcontracting and arbitration bills.

Please don’t assume that others will reach out to the Governor—do your part and let your voice be heard.

I am hopeful that Governor Christie will find that vetoing S-2163/A-3696 and S-968 is a very good idea.

These are my Reflections. I look forward to hearing yours.  Contact me at feinsodreflections@njsba.org.