What a Tenure-Free Future Looks Like

Transcript of recorded conversation

Office of Freeholder xxxxx xxxxx

County of xxxxx, NJ

April 3, 2015

Hello?… Joey, hey how are you?… Good, good… Yeah, I got your email… OK, let me see if I got this right:

You’ve got a councilman who needs a favor for his niece: she’s an artist… yeah, young people, what’re you goin’ do?… and she needs a job, and is thinking about teaching. No training as a teacher, no education degree… yeah, don’t worry, that’s fine, we’ll get her into an alternate route thing…

And then you’ve also got this “friend” who’s been “generous.” He’s got a kid who wants to be a bowling coach. We could make that happen, but why don’t we make him a teacher too; then he can coach during the season, and teach during the rest of the year. Is he good at anything?… You think he’s OK at math?… Yeah, I think we can do something…

How can I hook them up? OK, here’s the deal: in the last election, we managed to get several of our friends on one of the local school boards. And since the Ruiz bill passed back in 2012… yeah, the TEACHNJ Act… that’s right, since it passed, we can make a lot of things happen that we couldn’t make happen before. So here’s what our friends on the school board are telling me…

Let’s start with the niece. The local union vice-president is an art teacher, and I gotta tell you, Joe – she’s a big pain in the ass. Tough negotiator, always active in union business, always making a big stink about working conditions, calling out incompetent administrators… yeah, you know the type. I’ll tell you, there are quite a few people on the board who’d be happy to see her go who aren’t even our “friends,” you know?

Well, now that the Ruiz bill is in place, it only takes one bad review to rate her as “ineffective,” which she got last year. Yeah, her principal and the superintendent are sick of her, so they’ll gladly write her another bad review, and it doesn’t even matter if they don’t know the first thing about teaching art…

Yeah, you’re right, there is another teacher who sits on a committee that oversees her evaluation. But you know what? The bill didn’t clearly define that committee’s power. And the teacher who sits on it doesn’t want to lose his job; he’ll play along…

How long will this take? Joey, that’s the beauty of this thing: she was rated “ineffective” immediately. There wasn’t an appeal, there wasn’t an outside source to confirm anything… and because she’s an art teacher, there weren’t even tests to show if her kids were learning. She’s going to lose her tenure, she won’t get a new contract, and she’ll be gone by the end of June. Tell the councilman to have his niece put together her resume right now… Yeah, it’s just a formality, but we’ve got to keep up appearances, you know?

OK, the bowling coach… yeah, I know just the spot for him. We’ve got the 7th Grade math teacher who’s… well, let’s just say he’s “different” than most other folks in the rest of the town. You know what I mean?… Yeah, he would kinda stand out if he showed up at the next church social…

The board made sure the superintendent gave him some challenging students again this year… yeah, his test scores won’t be so great. This has been going on for a couple of years now, so he’s going to be rated “partially effective” for another year…

No…no, you gotta understand this: he doesn’t get a hearing. He doesn’t get to explain his situation. He’s just gone if the principal says so; and if the superintendent says so, the principal says so; and if I say so, the super says so. You understand? Yeah… yeah, exactly: there’s no more oversight outside of the district. As long as our people run the board, we make all the decisions.

So let’s get this kid the math job, and then we’ll make him the bowling coach at the high school… The current coach? Joe, do you think he’s gonna make any waves about this? Or the athletic director?… Exactly – everybody’s running scared now. No one’s standing up for themselves anymore, just how we like it…

Yeah… yeah, I never thought we’d be able to have this much juice in the schools. Gotta hand it to Elizabeth: they paved the way. We’ve got all these teachers under our thumbs, making contributions to campaigns, working the polls, scared of losing their jobs if they don’t… yeah, it’s going to be great at the next election…

What’s that? How are the students doing?

(Pause)

Oh, you son of a… (laughter) oh, you dirty… (laughter) …you had me going there for a second!… (laughter) …I thought you were serious!…

OK… yeah, OK, let me know when you need another favor… No, you can email me at my county address. Yeah, it’s fine: this is now all perfectly legal… yeah, say hi to the senator for me. So long…

(end transcript)

Comments (6)

  1. Rosi Efthim

    Also want to point out, our stats are showing a LOT of people reading this post right now, and sharing via social media.

    Seems like a perfect time to direct you to Jersey Jazzman on Twitter @jerseyjazzman and his own home blog: Jersey Jazzman.  

    Reply
  2. William Weber (WjcW)

    the conversation I overheard at the gym a couple months ago…

    between two gym teachers I’m supposing… who were working out next to me…

    #1 – “Do you think it’s appropriate for me to were workout clothes to school?”

    #2 – “I wouldn’t, at least not until you get tenure.”

    Now, sweatpants to school isn’t a big deal for gym teachers…

    But if you don’t think that line of thinking invades other areas of effort, I think you’re mistaken.

    Reply

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