Tenure Legislation Clears Senate 39-0 June 21
Senate bill S-1455 (Ruiz) cleared the Senate 39-0 last evening, moving tenure reform one step closer to final passage. The Assembly is expected to vote on an amended bill that will likely look more like the Senate version with some key changes, as early as today.
The Senate's passage of S-1455 with unanimous Republican support provides strong inference that Gov. Chris Christie is on board with the legislation. In fact, the discussion on the floor was highly supportive of the Senator's work on the legisation from both sides of the aisle, with Senator Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) touting the bill as an important first step and Senator Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) as well as the Senate President Steve Sweeney (Gloucester) congratulating the Senator on a job well done.
We have an opportunity to vote yes for teachers, yes for greatness, and most importantly, yes for the children,” Ruiz said in introducing her bill on the Senate floor.
Conversations between Senator Ruiz and the Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan Jr. (D-Middlesex), the Assembly’s education chairman and sponsor of that chamber’s bill, A-3060, appear to have completed with the two working out differences between the two bills late yesterday. NJPSA provided the full Legislature recommendations as the two chambers work to merge the legislation.
What’s In and What’s Out?
Senate bill S-1455 has changed significantly since its initial introduction. While the original bill would have called for the elimination of seniority, the version that passed last evening does not. Also out is so called, “mutual consent” which required both a teacher and principal agree to a placement in a school.
Tenure attainment would be extended by a year, with new teachers required to participate in district based mentorship program. Current licensure regulation would continue to apply for new school leaders (i.e. the current residency/mentorship program authorized by N.J.A.C. 6A: 9-12.
In addition, negotiation between the two chambers tweaked the bill further, eliminating or modifying some of the problematic provisions and adding some key points as well. Included within these changes is the requirement that only in district certified supervisors conduct evaluation. NJPSA fought for inclusion of this change throughout yesterday.
Also included were some extensions of the timeline for the arbitration process and language that student test scores alone would not be a determinant factor in a teacher’s evaluation, but one of several.
But where Diegnan’s proposal called for a loss of tenure after two years of “ineffective” ratings, the lowest of four tiers of evaluations, he agreed to Ruiz’s version that it be two years of either “ineffective” or “partially effective,” the bottom two tiers. A teacher could get an extra year if showing improvement in that time.
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