Chris Christie continues his drive for reform in education by releasing a tough new plan aimed at wresting control of schools away from unions and giving it back to the parents. The CBS affiliate in New York calls this a “tough love” approach, but that’s perhaps underselling it a bit. Christie wants to test the teachers to ensure that they comprehend the core skills in math and reading that they are expected to teach, and to rid the schools of those who don’t make the cut. The reason? Poor teachers hurt children, Christie explains:
Determined to turn New Jersey’s education system on its head, Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday unveiled a tough-love reform package that will make classroom achievement — not seniority or tenure — the basis for pay hikes and career advancement in Garden State public schools.
Christie is turning his take-no-prisoner’s style to the classroom, demanding a top to bottom overhaul of how New Jersey students learn and teachers teach. And that means undoing tenure, seniority and other union work rules.
“We cannot wait. Your children are sitting in these classrooms today. We cannot wait to make it better,” Christie told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
Unqualified teachers will feel the lash. The governor is demanding that teachers in kindergarten through fifth grade actually pass tests in reading and math in order to be certified.
“It might lead to the firing of lousy teachers and bad principals who hurt our children,” Christie said.
Union control of government policy and funds could become the biggest domestic policy issue in the nation, especially in states with pension bombs exploding and out-of-control spending. While the focus in federal circles will remain on Congress, in the states the battles will look precisely like this. For more on that, be sure to read Mike Antonucci’s Green Room post on unions and the Census, as well as Veronique de Rugy’s warning at The Corner that the next crisis will come from the states. That could be avoided — if more governors demand action as Christie has done in New Jersey.