The New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) praised Gov. Chris Christie and legislators for approving a new law that will reduce the time and cost of teacher tenure hearings.
Christie signed the law, called the TEACHNJ Act, on August 6.
“The new law creates an essential link between the tenure process and teacher performance. It also calls for an objective evaluation system to help ensure consistency,” said Marie S. Bilik, NJSBA executive director, in a written statement. “We commend the bi-partisan effort, and hope to see further reforms in areas such as seniority, which would further strengthen school district leaders’ ability to ensure that the most effective teachers are in the classroom.”
While NJSBA had called for eliminating lifetime tenure and the “last in, first out” rules, the association is pleased with the changes made by this new law, particularly the bill’s emphasis on teacher evaluation and requiring four years of work instead of three before a school employee can initially earn tenure.
According to NJSBA, the legislation requires a superintendent to recommend the filing of tenure charges after consecutive annual evaluation ratings of ineffective. The ratings are to be based upon an evaluation process approved by the commissioner of education. “This provision represents a major change in how the tenure laws have been applied up to now,” Bilik said.
“This new tenure law is an important step towards ensuring we have a great teacher in every classroom,” Christie, a Republican, said at the signing ceremony. “Now is the time to build on this record of cooperation and results to put in place further reforms focused on our students by ending the flawed practice of last in, first out and supporting both differentiated pay and banning forced placements of teachers.”
CNN reported that New Jersey has the oldest teacher tenure law on the books, first passed in 1909.