The tenure bill (S-1455) sponsored by Democratic State Senator Theresa Ruiz (D-Essex) is the latest attack on teachers demonstrating New Jersey legislators’ bipartisan support of the corporate education agenda, according to an article published last week by NJSpotlight.
The article was written by Montclair High School teacher Brian Ford and Kathryn Strom, a former history teacher.
These anti-teacher reforms, couched in the language of equity and democracy, harm our nation’s kids living in poverty, kids of color, kids who speak English as a second language, and kids with disabilities (although often these categories are one and the same) by covering up the real sources of failure: widespread child poverty, institutionalized racism, inequitable access to quality education that reproduces societal inequality, and recently, a deliberate starving of public education monetarily. The mainstream coverage of the bill in New Jersey also shows that those who have a voice in this issue lack even a precursory understanding of what "tenure” means and does for K-12 teachers, so here is a short lesson.
“Tenure” simply means that a teacher has the right to due process -- that’s it -- and teachers are not granted tenure automatically. After three years, during which their administrator must conductnine formal observations to determine whether the teacher is effective, the administrator signs off on the teacher’s tenure.
Once a teacher has been granted tenure, raises and seniority are not automatic, but based on performance. Any teacher, no matter how long they have served, can be denied their contractually prescribed raise from one year to the next. This is commonly called “withholding of increment.”
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