It didn't take long for a California court ruling that struck down tenure and other job protections for teachers in the Golden State to reverberate in the Garden State.

(Jupiterimages, ThinkStock)
(Jupiterimages, ThinkStock)

On Thursday, State Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Middletown) is expected to reintroduce his teacher tenure overhaul legislation. The key provision would eliminate last-in, first out (LIFO) protections for New Jersey teachers.

"It is counter-intuitive to say the last person in should be the first person out when there need to be personnel changes," Kyrillos said. "LIFO forces schools to ignore effectiveness and lays off higher performing teachers, younger teachers and can ensure that we have the least effective and often the most expensive teachers."

In August of 2012, Gov. Chris Christie signed a teacher tenure bill into law. Under the law, teachers now have to wait four years to get tenure protections instead of the three. They are rigorously evaluated and it takes less time and money to fire a bad teacher. The bill Christie signed did not eliminate LIFO protections.

"With my bill, we would eliminate the last-in, first out seniority protections," Kyrillos insisted. "People are recognizing that we're failing our kids. Too many of our schools are not measuring up. Some are outright awful."

The bill Kyrillos said he will reintroduce would also require school districts to develop merit-based salary schedules. Public school employees would be paid and retained based on performance. The measure would also allow school principals to assign teachers to classrooms where they will be effective.

Although the New Jersey Education Association opposed eliminating LIFO protections two years ago, it has posted on its website talking points about the 2012 reform law which it supported as a compromise. The site says "seniority was not addressed in the new tenure law, and it's not the problem."

The NJEA's website maintains that:

  • In most professions, experience is valued and respected. We all want experienced doctors and lawyers working for us.
  • Experienced teachers are lead ers in their schools, and play a key role in mentoring younger teachers. They will have even greater responsibilities to do   so under the new tenure law.
  • If a teacher of ANY experience level isn't doing his or her job, he or she should be evaluated and, if unable to improve, face dismissal under this new law.
  • Administrators now have a fair, fast, and less costly dismissal process. There is no excuse nor any reason to have to choose between an effective or an ineffective teacher in a layoff situation.

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