NJ Senate Check-In: Teacher Tenure

Thursday, July 05, 2012

New Jersey State Senator M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29) (NJSDemocrats)

Assistant majority leader of the state senate, M. Theresa Ruiz , gives a post-holiday check-in on New Jersey's special legislative session and discusses her sponsored legislation on teacher tenure.


M. Teresa Ruiz
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Comments [8]

Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Eliminate Tenure for ALL teachers/professors.

Let them sink or swim, succeed or fail like every one else.

Jul. 07 2012 08:11 PM
Subjective evaluation means NO real tenure from A backdoor way to eliminated senior teachers.

Here's the problem - SUBJECTIVE evaluations very
rapidly become political (both internally within
the school and district, and externally within the
state). This will allow the principal (or other
raters) the ability to destroy the career and livelihood
of teachers they want to get rid of - at whim.
In response to this teachers will have to spend time and
effort "sucking up" politically, socially (and perhaps in
other - even more corrupting ways) to the people who
rate them and therefore have the sole discretion to
eliminate them. Ratings do not occur in a vaccum.
Most SUBJECTIVE ratings allow the rater to POST-HOC
justify an enormous range of ratings - often the difference
between elimination and promotion. (Naturally, it's all couched
in objective sounding and high-minded tones - and is always
whitewashed as being "for the kids" - but it will be largely
political nonetheless). (The only way to get around this
is to base it on purely OBJECTIVE measures (like test scores)
which may be highly random but at least are not as politically

Now what is likely to happen ?
Principals are going to be under increasing political pressure
to eliminate expensive senior teachers, and to remove
teachers who may be professionally excellent - but are
politically and socially unpopular. There is likely
to be a norm (or even a requirement) that a certain percentage
of teachers gets culled each year. This implicit quota won't
be filled by the politically and socially connected teachers
who nevertheless are lousy at teaching (perhaps because they
spend their time sucking up). It'll be filled by unpopular
hard working teachers who work their students hard, and by
expensive senior teachers who have lost their political base.

In short, this ELIMINATES the very purpose of tenure,
will be widely used to reduce budgets, will corrupt and
weaken the teaching process, and will make teachers employees
controlled from above rather than professionals motivated
and driven from within.

Smart politics, smart budgeting, but bad for kids.

Jul. 05 2012 11:15 AM

She's not very impressive. Lots of words - empty content.

Jul. 05 2012 10:49 AM
Martha from New Brunswick

I don't think it will be hard to find teachers in this economy. Particularly in NJ, and some of suburban NY where 6 figure salaries are not uncommon. Kids only have one shot at an education and it is important to have reviews of efficiency and outcomes.

Jul. 05 2012 10:48 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Why would a teacher's politics be any more at risk than any other local civil servant? And who's to know what any teacher's politics are any more than any other public employee?

I thought that tenure was put in place to guarantee teachers the protection to teach openly and honestly, whether it's politics or science.

Jul. 05 2012 10:46 AM
Jane from New Jersey

I live in a New Jersey with a, supposedly, highly rated public schools. I am not a Christie supported. I believe that most of the teachers my daughter had in middle school were just going through the motions and some didn’t appear to teach at all. (Having 7th grade French students watch the Disney movie Ratatouille, in English?!?)

Jul. 05 2012 10:43 AM
psych professor from New Jersey

It is misleading to the general public to avoid the conversation about all the other variables that impact academic outcomes such as parental involvement, poverty, environmental factors, cultural value of education, etc. Teachers are not the magic bullet, yet they are the only ones taking the brunt of a "reform" that is trying to fix a system that overall has been performing better than ever in history (read Diane Ravitch's last book, she is an education historian).

Jul. 05 2012 10:40 AM

The whole point of tenure is so that teachers are not exposed to the political vagaries - otherwise every new mayor would replace those teachers who didn't support him/her with one who did. Think this is a thing of the past? I was an non-tenured teacher who didn't buy a fundraising ticket for the mayor of my school district (they come to your classroom) and my contract wasn't renewed. It's called the non-tenure teacher tax.

Jul. 05 2012 10:35 AM

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