PATERSON, NJ - What many saw as an anti-teachers union agenda by former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie continues to have an impact in city classrooms, Paterson Education Association President John McEntee told TAPinto Paterson recently, and is once again keeping their more than 3,000 members from being from entered into consideration for the annual Governor’s Teacher Recognition Program.

That program, according to the New Jersey Department of Education’s (NJDOE) website, “highlights educational innovation, student achievement, the rewards of teaching, and important services outside the classroom environment that lead to student success.”  

It also seeks to attract public attention to the positive aspects of our educational system, the program’s outline reads.

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In a letter to current Governor Phil Murphy, and reviewed by TAPinto Paterson, McEntee lamented that while the recognition program was “historically driven by employees, for employees, and was inclusive of all members” it is now anything but.

Under changes made during Christie’s tenure, McEntee wrote, eligibility for the recognition became contingent on teacher’s evaluation scores, teachers became ineligible if their evaluations judged them to be “partially effective” or “ineffective”, and nominations can not now be made by school administrators.

The union’s concern, McEntee said, coincides with their long term objection to the manner in which teacher evaluations are administered, a process that the letter stated is a “flawed and unfair instrument to measure performance.” The longtime educator and union leader stressed that neither he, nor the union, are opposed to having teachers evaluated fairly for their work in the classroom, and, in fact, believes it can be a useful tool to improve performance.

Unfortunately, he added, staff shortages make it impossible for evaluators to spend enough time in classrooms to really fully assess the quality of the lessons being delivered, and, too often, evaluators are swayed by other agendas.

Despite their decision to once again sit out of the recognition program Paterson’s teachers union still believes that “all school employees should be showered with praise for their hard work and dedication to the process,” and, in concluding their letter to Murphy, said that they hope to be “part of the process moving forward.”

A spokesman for the NJDOE declined to comment on the letter.


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