Governor Christie of New Jersey is continuing his efforts at education reform in New Jersey. Well, I'm not sure that "reform" is the right word, because slashing school budgets and failing to meet the deadline for "Race to The Top Money" doesn't quite qualify as positive change.
This week, he is making headlines by pushing for merit pay and tenure reform. He wants to make it easier to remove bad teachers and to reward teachers that raise children's test scores. Merit pay and tenure reform has growing support among Democrats as well as Republicans.
On tenure reform, Christie said he would propose a bill that affords every child the right to an "effective teacher" and says tenure must be granted and taken away based on teachers’ effectiveness evaluations…
On merit pay, Christie said he wants to prohibit seniority or graduate degree attainment in fields other than math and science from influencing salary increases for teachers. The large pool of funding needed to start a merit pay program would come from the savings of firing bad teachers through tenure reform, Christie said.
A recent Vanderbilt study found that merit pay does not improve children's test scores. I'm not surprised. A good teacher will continue to work hard, whether or not they get bonus or not. However, I think merit pay is a good idea simply because it is fair. Hard working teachers should be rewarded for their efforts. That's how other professions work.
However, I'm not convinced that test scores should be a component of determining the quality of a teacher, even when they are the numbers are adjusted used various algorithms.
Christie doesn't have a shot in hell in getting these reforms passed, because we are a strong union state. Even if he did, they would probably not have much of an impact on the overall quality of education in this state. Many bigger changes would have to be made.