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

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wait, I'm confused, I thought NJ wanted good teachers?

For a state that ranks pretty high in student achievement, and in quality of schools overall, New Jersey sure seems to be going out of its way to discourage quality teachers from coming to (or staying in) our schools. I'm not talking about Governor Christie's rhetoric, the so-called "demonizing" of teachers. And I'm not talking about those brave school boards that are right this very minute struggling to change the financial paradigm in contract negotiations (aka "taking away" or modifying some of the benefits teachers have enjoyed for generations). Those are other topics for another day.

No, I'm talking about two recent news items that got relatively little publicity.

First, there was the story that at least one NJ school district, in Medford, is considering forcing student teachers to pay for the opportunity to do their student-teaching internships in Medford schools. I couldn't believe this. Just the other day I was musing on the great deal districts (and universities) get thanks to student teachers. Think about it: The student pays tuition to the college, while spending no (or very little) time using classrooms, professors or other college resources. The District gets a young, energetic teacher, who can work with struggling students, give enrichment to advanced students, sub for sick teachers, perform playground and lunch duty...all for free! The idea that a student teacher would be required to pay $1,200-$1,500, on top of their tuition, will surely discourage them from doing their internship in such a district.

The second story was about the bill to require in-state residency for New Jersey public employees, including teachers. According to bill S-1730, all state, county and municipal employees, as well as anyone working for political subdivisions of the state, employees of public authorities, boards, agencies and commissions and, finally, employees of schools, colleges and universities, would also be required to have their principal residence in New Jersey, making it their legal residence for the purposes of voting and paying taxes. Public employees now working in New Jersey would have 2 1/2 years from the date the law is enacted to establish their residency in the state.

For sure this will be devastating for Districts located very close to state lines. For Ridgewood, I don't know the exact number, but I do know we have some teachers who live in Rockland County, Manhattan and Connecticut.

This is silly. Don't we want the best teachers, wherever they live?

Honestly, you'd think excellent teachers are just growing on trees. Yes, there are lots of great teachers, but treating them like a commodity is no way to appreciate value.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly about the residency provision. As a taxpayer, I want the best teacher for my money. As a parent, I want the best teacher for my money.
The only arguments I've heard for the residency provision revolve around eceonomics - teachers will then be spending their money in-state, helping to fuel the economy. Of course, this goes against the fact that we are a free people and unless there is an overriding reason, we should be able to live wherever we choose to live.

Anonymous said...

Laurie, I think that any payment should come from the college to a district. As you said, "The student pays tuition to the college, while spending no (or very little) time using classrooms, professors or other college resources."
I don't think that student teachers can actually be used as substitutes. Not only are they not teaching (despite what anyone says it is 90% babysitting), but they are supposed to be supervised by the classroom teacher to give them input, feedback, and suggestions.

Laurie said...

Well, it doesn't take much to become certified as a sub. And many student teachers are already sub-certified as it's a good way to earn money during school breaks while also picking up some classroom experience. I was envisioning a scenario where if a student teacher has a sub certificate and they're interning in a 1st grade classroom, and the 1st grade teacher next door calls in sick, it would make sense to have the student teacher sub for a day. It would save the school $90 (in Ridgewood) and potentially beef-up the student's experience.

You're right that normally, though, you want the student teacher working in the room with the experienced teacher.

Anonymous said...

You have a good point. I'd like to suggest that places like Medford make a deal with the colleges (instead of payment), that students be available for 1 or 2 weeks as free substitutes.
This wouldn't require the lessening of the student teachers actual current classroom experience teaching, and would hone their pure classroom control experience. Currently, with the real teacher in the room, the children are much more sedate than they will be on the teachers first job. This experience substituting would give them the other end of the pole - pure control.