Last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took his plans for education reform to the Oprah show to unveil a new public/private venture in the Newark school district. This week, the governor is taking his case to the state level, introducing a number of tough-love reforms aimed at improving classroom achievement in the Garden State.
On Tuesday, Gov. Christie announced new plans to tie classroom achievement to pay increases and career advancement for teachers, redefining the standards for teacher performance and moving away from a seniority- or tenure-based system. In its place, Christie hopes to implement a more top-to-bottom overhaul of New Jersey classrooms.
“We cannot wait. Your children are sitting in these classrooms today. We cannot wait to make it better,” Christie told the local CBS affiliate's Marcia Kramer.
Unqualified teachers will feel the lash. The governor is demanding that teachers in kindergarten through fifth grade actually pass tests in reading and math in order to be certified.
“It might lead to the firing of teachers and principals who hurt our children,” Christie said.
Christie's planned reforms include prohibiting salary scales based on seniority and awarding tenure and pay raises based on classroom performance.
“We are paying a fortune for something that is not giving our children the hope and the feeling that their tomorrow can be better than their future,” Christie said.
While a number of educational experts applauded the governor’s actions, a spokesman for the NJ Education Association condemned the plan, claiming Christie was "trying to implement education reform without any input from educators."
“He is with excellence in education for everyone by prioritizing teachers — their brilliance, their art and their skills. We will dramatically improve the quality of education of our kids in New Jersey, particularly those most in need,” said Derrell Bradford, director of Excellent Education for Everyone.