NJEA testifies on proposed amendments to education code

Published on Thursday, January 3, 2013

 Fran Pfeffer
NJEA Associate Director of Government Relations Francine Pfeffer testified on both the proposed amendments to the school district operations code and the educator effectiveness regulations.

Since the N.J. Department of Education (NJDOE) began a major overhaul of education code last fall, NJEA has been a constant presence at testimony sessions before members of the State Board of Education (SBOE).

At the December SBOE meeting, NJEA Associate Director of Government Relations Francine Pfeffer testified on both the proposed amendments to the school district operations code and the educator effectiveness regulations.

Of particular concern to the Association is the NJDOE’s plan to remove language regarding full-time employment of teachers. Currently, the code sets minimum standards, both for the length of a teacher’s day and his or her lunch period and should remain in the code. “The regulatory language does more than just provide teachers with a duty-free lunch,” Pfeffer stated. “It also provides a reasonable framework for districts to use to schedule lunch periods for both staff and students.”

For the first time, the department is recommending a maximum class size for kindergarten. Unfortunately, the cap will be 25. “NJEA believes that kindergarten class size should limited to 15 students to ensure high quality instruction,” advanced Pfeffer.

With regard to educator effectiveness, Pfeffer reiterated NJEA’s objection that the teachers in charter schools will not be subject to the state’s new teacher evaluation system.

Pfeffer repeated NJEA’s belief that language referring to training requirements for teacher evaluation be more specific to ensure that training is “rigorous and comprehensive.” She again encouraged the board and the department to allow districts to bargain an alternate approach to evaluation for tenured teachers who are rated “effective” or “highly effective” in two consecutive years. “This would relieve principals of conducting some observations of successful teachers, yet help to continue strengthening teaching and learning.”

Finally, Pfeffer reiterated NJEA’s concern about the extent to which student test scores will be used in teacher evaluation. “Research shows that placing undue emphasis on standardized assessment results is unfair to both teachers and students.   


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