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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org