Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Friday, April 16, 2010

Governor Christie's latest "deal o' the day" could be devastating for Ridgewood

I'm truly sorry that every idea that Governor comes up with -- and he seems to have a new one every day -- is met by my skepticism or negative prediction. Honestly, I wish the guy would come up with something thoughtful and positive, something that shows he actually grasps the complexities of the issues and the ramifications of his sound bite education policy. I'd love to support some good, creative, non-destructive ideas.

Instead, the latest Hail Mary from Trenton is one of those over-simplified ideas that could harm our schools for years:

The governor has proposed changes to the state's pension and benefits rules that would give an incentive to teachers to retire. Under the plan, teacher retirements could jump seven-fold, with as many as 30,000 veteran educators statewide exiting before the next school year. In Ridgewood, estimates are that as many as 100 teachers could suddenly retire. While the money savings realized by replacing those higher-paid senior teachers with lower-paid new teachers could be significant, let's just think about the further ramifications:

If 100 teachers suddenly retired over the summer, Ridgewood would need to scramble to hire replacements. If 30,000 teachers retired statewide, we would find ourselves competing mightily to fill our staffing holes. And what happens when there's competition? Higher salaries...more expensive benefits...other forms of compensation or enticements to potential employees. We could find ourselves having to pay more to attract new teachers.

Another fallout -- with a seller's market created and staffing holes all over the state, we would likely see some of our remaining teachers deciding to test the waters and see if they can get a better deal somewhere else.

Then there are the effects in our classrooms. Many of our senior teachers function as either formal or informal mentors for our younger teachers. We would suffer with the loss of this experience.

Logisticallty, 100 new teachers getting up to speed, getting to know the district, the curriculum, getting to know students, parents and administrators...that's not the most smooth transition.

And, finally, what on earth is the Governor thinking in encouraging so many teachers to start drawing pensions? Can the state afford to pay out all those pensions? Considering the state has NOT funded its obligations into the pension system for 11 of the 15 years, I highly doubt the system can afford such a large outflow of cash.

I can't wait to hear what Governor Christie's idea is for today...

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