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Early verdict is mostly favorable for Jersey’s revamped teacher tenure law

May 1, 2013 by

TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey’s new teacher tenure law has been in place for eight months, and the early verdict is mostly favorable for parents and taxpayers.

Under the new law, a school district can fire a tenured teacher for “conduct unbecoming” or “inefficiency” – if a specially appointed arbitrator agrees with the decision.

Of the 15 cases that have been tried under these new rules, nine have involved teachers accused of conduct unbecoming, an offense that covers everything from excessive absenteeism to inappropriate relationships with students.

“In the majority of [those] cases, the districts have prevailed – either in revoking tenure or meting out significant penalties,” reports NJSpotlight.com.

The other six cases involve educators who have been charged with “inefficiency,” which is an old-timey way of saying they’ve been found to be ineffective in the classroom.

So far, all of the “inefficiency” cases have been initiated by Newark City schools, the largest district in The Garden State. The Newark district has prevailed in just half of those cases, NJSpotlight.com reports.

In two of the three cases won by the teachers union, the arbitrator fully reinstated the accused educator. In the third case, the teacher was reinstated to the classroom but denied a pay raise.

Experts expect more school districts to follow Newark’s lead and begin bringing “inefficiency” charges against tenured teachers next year.

In fact, “the law requires districts to file such charges if a teacher has two consecutive years of unsatisfactory evaluations,” reports NJSpotlight.com.

While the sample size is quite small, it appears that New Jersey’s revamped tenure law is working pretty much as expected. School districts will likely win the majority of the cases involving teachers who are accused of misconduct. But they may have to settle for a fifty-fifty split with the unions in cases of ineffectiveness.

That’s just the nature of arbitration.

Arbitrators are third party participants who – if they desire to keep working – must keep both the unions and the districts happy with their rulings. That means the teacher unions will win half of the “inefficiency” cases, with the overall result being that a sizeable number of bad teachers will remain in the classroom.

Looking at it another way, a sizable number will also be removed, something that happened much less frequently under the state’s former tenure law.

Using arbitration to remove subpar teachers is not a perfect system, but it’s apparently the best one education reformers could find in a state that’s dominated by labor unions and their political lap dogs.

via Early verdict is mostly favorable for Jersey’s revamped teacher tenure law – EAGnews.org :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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