What We Believe
B4NJKids (B4K) is an independent voice for common-sense education reform in New Jersey. B4K stands for the proposition that the first priority of the New Jersey public school system must be the best interests of New Jersey students, not the special interests that dominate the status quo. To this end, every class must have an effective teacher and every school an effective principal, and teachers and principals should be given the necessary training and resources to be effective. Public policy and all administrative and personnel policies should support these goals. Parents must be empowered with access to data and other information to hold educators, leaders and elected officials accountable for their performance.
OUR CORE PRINCIPLES
- Reward and Support Excellence in the Teaching Profession with Improved Evaluations and Differentiated Compensation
Teachers are the most important part of a great education system and reforms are needed to encourage, support and reward teacher excellence. NJ must develop a system that can evaluate teacher performance, give teachers meaningful and actionable feedback, reward effective teachers and identify teachers that need additional support. The teacher evaluation process must be transparent and significantly based on measured student outcomes, with clear guidelines and standards. Compensation, promotion and retention policies must all reward excellence. Excellent teachers must be provided with enhanced career and compensation opportunities, including increased pay for elevated professional status, mentoring and peer development responsibilities, and incentives for placement into high-needs schools or subject areas. Underperforming teachers must be identified and given the support to improve their performance, and removed if improvement is not forthcoming after a reasonable period.
- Grant Tenure Based on Performance and End LIFO
Tenure must be re-established as a significant professional achievement rather than an automatic and permanent reward for time served. Teacher performance, as reflected in evaluations, must be a significant factor in any decision to grant tenure. If layoffs are necessary, they must be based on teacher performance first and foremost, instead of relying solely on seniority as in the current system. Seniority and teacher experience are important, but they cannot be the only determinative factors in granting tenure or making layoffs.
- Empower Parents to Demand Excellence
Parents must be provided with accessible and accurate data that permit them to evaluate schools and teachers. Such data would include attendance, student test scores (aggregated for class and school), teacher/principal evaluations and salaries, graduation rates and other relevant information. Principals must be tasked with ensuring the transparency of personnel decisions and the evaluations process, as well as with outreach efforts so that parents are informed about their rights, responsibilities and options.
- Empower Principals and Hold Them Accountable for Excellence in their Schools
Along with teachers, principals must also be evaluated on their ability to drive student outcomes (aggregated on a school-wide basis). Principals must have the authority to assemble their team of educators, and teacher placement must be by mutual consent of both the principal and the teacher. Principals should have significant input into the teacher evaluation and feedback process and then hold teachers accountable for their performance. Principals must be accountable for attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers and removing ineffective teachers. Excellent principals should be rewarded with career advancement, mentoring opportunities and increased compensation.
- Expand Opportunities for Non-traditional Teaching and Principal Candidates
Expand opportunities for recruitment of non-traditional teaching candidates such as outstanding college students (via programs like Teach For America), military veterans and mid-career professionals. Expand opportunities for recruitment of non-traditional principal candidates to include those with a proven record of success in non-academic careers. Credentials should be valued insofar as they are shown to promote student achievement.