Friday, September 7, 2012

Christie, New Jersey teachers union ready to battle over proposed reforms

By Ben Velderman
MIDDLESEX, N.J. – On the heels of successfully reforming New Jersey’s 103-year-old teacher tenure law, Gov. Chris Christie is making a push for another round of needed education reforms.

On Wednesday, Christie’s Education Transformation Task Force released its long-awaited report that recommends making 428 changes to state regulations and 46 changes to state laws, reports Newsmax.
The highlights of the report include recommendations to end “last in, first out” protections for veteran teachers and establish a voucher plan that would allow low-income students to attend private schools using state money for tuition.
The task force also suggests eliminating tenure job protections for non-instructional staff and permitting “opt-in” same-sex classrooms, reports the Asbury Park Press.
Most education leaders seem to like the idea of scrapping many school regulations.
“Generally, we agree with the direction of the proposed regulatory changes,” New Jersey School Boards Association spokesman Frank Belluscio told the
Many current rules “consume too much time and effort on the part of school administrators that could be better directed elsewhere,” Belluscio added.
But – surprise, surprise – the state’s largest teachers union panned the voucher and “last in, first out” proposals.
“They are pushing private school management with public funds,” said New Jersey Education Association spokesman Steve Baker, according to the Courier Post.
That tired old argument is losing credibility throughout the nation. The courts have been ruling that school voucher systems don’t send state money to private schools. The state gives the money to parents in the form of vouchers, and the parents decide where to spend it. Therefore there is no violation of the separation of church and state.
But the union can be expected to put up a spirited fight, anyway. If these new proposals have any chance of becoming law, Christie will have to steamroll the NJEA, just like he did during the tenure battle.

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