On the front page of today’s Asbury Park Press appears the following headline; NJ teachers union will meet with Schundler to discuss reform package.
Due to all the inflammatory rhetoric about teachers and the NJEA being thrown about about by the Governor and his “mini-me”, Middletown’s mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, I read the article with interest and was glad to find out that the NJEA and State Education Commissioner Bret Schundler will be sitting down to discuss potential reforms that will have an impact the union as well as on how children in the state are taught.
According to Schundler and the article the reforms that they will be discussing will be based on President Obama’s platform for reforming education, Race to the Top, and that “…federal education officials have determined that the second round of Race to the Top funding decisions would give reform efforts stronger consideration than acceptance by the teachers unions… In the previous funding round, union acceptance was a key component of the analysis. “
It went on to add:
“…the state would “make child learning the standard and the measure by which professionals are evaluated…. the state will need to replace a failing school’s management team or its entire staff…. that “educational effectiveness” and not necessarily seniority should be a prime factor in which staff members end up getting laid off during staff reductions.
In his address, Schundler said that the state constitution requires the Legislature to provide for a thorough and efficient system of education, and so the ultimate responsibility to make sure children learn is not school administrators, teachers or even the teachers’ union, but “the responsibility to provide an education is for those of us in state government.”…
If handled correctly by both Schundler and the NJEA, I think these discussions could be a very important first step in addressing how effective local school boards could be in the future when entering into collective bargaining agreements with members of the teachers union by leveling the playing field in which schools boards must operate under while negotiating contracts.
Everyone know that the problems that we face today with the reliance on property taxes to fund our school system is not the fault of teachers, but yet teachers are feeling the heat from the politicians that have put the current system in place and who don’t have the political will to change it through proper negotiations or statutes.
My position all along has not been necessarily to support teachers, but to support the sanctity of the collective bargaining agreements that have been negotiated in good faith with local school boards.
In all honestly, I feel that teachers here in Middletown and across the state, that turned down requests for one year wage freezes to help ease the pain that local tax payers are feeling this year, was the wrong decision to make. They should have accepted wage freezes as a sign of good will towards the communities that pay them. However, I do not blame them or hold ill will towards them because of that decision. A contract is a contract and should be honored as such.
But, when the school boards enter into contract discussion with teachers next year, teachers should be well aware that residents will not be as tolerable of their stance on wages and benefits as they have been in the past so therefore they should be open to making some kind of consessions in these areas.