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Union Lawmakers Seek Fair-Minded Reforms, Without Politicizing the Classroom

Senator Raymond Lesniak, Assembly Majority Leader Joe Cryan, and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (all D-Union) today took a stance against Governor Christie’s call for the outright elimination of teacher tenure, citing the classroom ramifications of making teachers hostages to political whims.

The Governor emphasized his position in his State of the State Address on Tuesday, stating, “The time to eliminate teacher tenure is now.”

“Governor Christie’s proposal to abolish teacher tenure from New Jersey public schools will have the same effect as his firing of qualified judges from the State courts — a muzzling of those who hold different political or policy views,” said Lesniak. “We recognize that we have to do something to make New Jersey’s schools the best in the nation, but abolishing tenure will only succeed in causing teachers to constantly look over their shoulder, afraid of retribution for participating in our State’s democracy. We owe it to students to create a better educational and tenure system, but abolishing tenure isn’t the way to do that.”

“There is no denying that reforms are necessary to improve student outcomes and elevate the standard of education in New Jersey,” said Cryan. “Make no mistake about it, we will fully support fair-minded reforms that will help boost teacher performance in order to improve the quality of education for our students. But what we cannot allow to happen is the politicization of the classroom where teachers operate in constant fear of retribution over their political views or their election participation. This would undermine our very democracy.”

“One of the lessons of Chris Christie’s first year in office is that we need less politics in our schools, not more,” said Quijano. “We’ve seen the Governor take umbrage with teachers who hold opposing view points at his town hall meetings. Imagine how this would play out at the local level if a teacher voices their opinion or refuses to participate financially in school elections. We need reforms that boost teacher performance by freeing them up to concentrate on the classroom, not distracting them with possible political repercussions.”