Governor Chris Christie’s efforts in reforming the conventional job security offered to many New Jersey teachers have consistently made headlines since said efforts began. The Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability of New Jersey ACT, or TEACH NJ, has proved to be in many ways an improvement upon the status quot in the state’s school districts and sets precedence for other states to begin their own reform.
“For too long, we have failed to adequately and honestly judge the performance of New Jersey’s teachers based on the only outcome that actually matters – how well our children are learning” Chris Christie said.
Many consider tenure to have been a hindrance to their children’s education. The removal of less-than-competent teachers is crucial for students to effectively make use of their time in the classroom. In the midst of debate over different facets of the educational system, the state came together in finding common ground, enacting new policy to combat the situation.
TEACH NJ, passed in the August 2012, allows for the use of enhanced evaluations to ensure a thorough assessment of teachers’ proficiency. In theory, these evaluations are to keep teachers at their prime with more intense assessments to now worry about.
However, some opponents of the reforms question whether or not the new techniques involved are actually beneficial to school districts. A common issue brought up is the importance brought upon test scores in evaluating improvement in the classroom. Many also see the new polices, and ultimately Governor Chris Christie, as anti-teacher while citing the repercussions of a possibly biased tenure reform.
In my own school, a medium-sized high school holding around a thousand students, the reform efforts have taken place at the district level as more frequent evaluations. As it may have happened with other schools, the rest is really up to the schools’ convictions. Our administration may have adopted the evaluations, but has yet to enforce the main idea behind the reforms and replace its dimmer bulbs.
A consensus among many can be summarized in the words of NJ Spotlight’s Howard Wainer in saying that these reforms’ goals “…are laudable, but these proposals should be viewed as tentative first steps.”