Whatever else anyone thinks of Chris Christie, one cannot accuse him of backing away from a fight. In his effort to restore excellence to public education, Christie wants to eliminate tenure for teachers, proposing instead five-year contracts with performance reviews determining whether an instructor gets an offer of renewal. New Jersey cannot ensure quality instruction, Christie argues, when teachers get jobs “for life” after the first three years they spend with a school, and the only way to ensure excellence is to enforce accountability for performance:
The teachers union rep claims that teachers earn this lifetime protection with the first three years of their performance, but that’s ridiculous. In no other industry do workers lay claim to entitlement of employment by performing well only over the first three years. In fact, even with civil service protections, not even other public-sector workers get that kind of protection. Merely reducing the time for dismissal hearings involving tenured teachers won’t solve the problem, either, as the union suggests.
If teachers want to keep tenure at public schools, then those states should create voucher systems for parents to enforce accountability through their feet. One way or another, our children deserve effective and accountable education, and the vast majority of teachers who perform their jobs well deserve to have their own performance validated on its own rather than having to join the incompetent behind the skirts of tenure. Five-year contracts are more than sufficient to protect teachers while giving their employers a chance to evaluate whether continued employment is warranted.
Monday, January 17, 2011