Contradictions in Christie’s education reform: New Jersey’s teachers professional development

NJ Spotlight | Time to Get New Jersey’s Teachers Off the Clock?.

Governor Christie formed the Education Transformation Task Force and that TF has spoken: Among other things it has raised questions about the wisdom in the rule that teachers must accrue 100 hours of professional development every 5 years.

Headed by former state education commissioner David Hespe, the task force appointed with much fanfare by Christie earlier this year said it was time to move beyond “clock hours” in determining if teachers are getting enough professional development.

I do not have an educated opinion on that specific matter. But I find another point of interest in the findings of the task force:

The report suggested “more focus on teacher collaboration and support through “professional learning communities, where teachers can learn from each other on a daily basis.”

How well that collective cooperation would stand against the professed design of Christie, Cerf, and co, to establish merit pay for teachers where individual competition will be equated with monetary profit?

Can teachers compete for more money and at the same time cooperate with each other for the betterment of their schools? Would not teachers, more likely, withhold beneficial knowledge and practices from their peers to secure their bonuses and even their jobs?

Once the internal cohesion of the schools is destroyed by Christie’s introduction of competitive elements among their staffs, the harm is done. One can not turn people on and off as if they were light switches. The mistrust among the staffs of public schools will remain well beyond Christie’s and Cerf’s terms.