Tenure overhaul advances in New Jersey

A New Jersey Senate committee has unanimously advanced a bill that would make teacher tenure harder to attain and easier to lose. One lawmaker from North Jersey hailed the measure as “historic.”

The concept of overhauling teacher tenure is a major tenet for those who want to improve public-school education.

Sen. Teresa Ruiz says it was an historic vote.

“We really need to focus on what we’ve accomplished here and that was bring everyone together to effectuate good structured policy that will forever from this point forward, when the bill gets signed, create positive change for the profession and for every student in every classroom across the state,” said Ruiz, D-Essex.

Both versions of the bill have support from education advocacy groups.

NJEA President Barbara Keshishian says the measure will raise the standards for achieving tenure and reduce the costs of adjudicating tenure cases.“This bill ensures that before any tenured teacher is fired, he or she has the right to a hearing before a highly qualified and neutral third party arbitrator,” Keshishian.

But many of the groups still have concerns about some provisions.

The measure approved Monday by the budget committee now advances to the full Senate. The Assembly is considering a similar measure with the same goal.

A spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie said Monday that the governor supports the bill adopted in the Senate and awaits the final version.

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