During his State of the State address yesterday, Governor Christie laid out an ambitious education reform plan, but the teachers union doesn’t seem too impressed. The Governor called for reforming tenure – by measuring teacher effectiveness, both with professional observation, and objective, quantifiable measures of student achievement – and then by giving tenure to those with strong evaluations, and taking it away from those whose ratings are unacceptably weak.

He also said if layoffs are necessary, we should remove the least effective teachers instead of just the most junior ones.

Christie also wants to pay teachers more when they are assigned to a failing school or to teach a difficult subject – and end forced placements. He says teachers should not be assigned to schools without the mutual consent of the teacher and the principal.

And finally the Governor says we should reform our process for authorizing charter schools to attract the best operators to New Jersey, to streamline the process for the best performers, to focus on our failing school districts and to encourage innovation.

Wendell Steinhauer, Vice President of the New Jersey Education Association says “the NJEA has its own tenure reform package -it deals more with making sure that effective teachers are in the classroom – his is combining evaluation and tenure together… we believe in having effective teachers in the classroom now, not waiting for layoffs – and going back to our tenure reform package – that would help that process.”

He says tenure was created almost a hundred years ago to deal with “corruption, the nepotism, and protections of teachers to have free speech – and to be able to advocate for children -for their programs – that’s not what they’re addressing.”

Steinhauer adds “we have reached out to the Governor since day one – to work with him – as a matter of fact I shook his hand going into the session…we are always open to a meeting with the Governor and his folks, to talk about common sense solutions to these problems – he has an agenda, we have an agenda…we don’t believe that slinging insults back and forth is going to solve anything – those are short term effects – if you want long-term effect you gotta have collaboration, you gotta establish a relationship- which we are ready to do – and from listening to his speech, I think that’s what he wants to do, so I’m hoping that we’ll meet soon. ”

He also say sthe NJEA wants to make sure “there are effective teachers in every classroom – and to provide the resources- and make sure we have smaller class sizes, pre-K, full day kindergarten- I don’t hear any of those proposals from the Governor – but those are the things that are going to make the changes- it’s an investment…we have a reform agenda ready to work with the Governor and the Legislature- so we’re ready to work on that.”