Thursday, May 27, 2010


Recently New Jersey was denied federal Race to the Top education aid because the New Jersey Education Association would not agree to merit pay for teachers. It appears Governor Chris Christie's bitter public battle with the NJEA is not stopping the statewide teachers' union from still carrying on a productive dialogue with State Education Commissioner Bret Schundler, another long-time nemesis.

NJEA spokesman Steve Baker says that after meetings with Schundler the union feels more comfortable about big proposed changes, such as merit pay for teachers.

If successful, a Race to the Top grant could bring up to $400 million in federal funding to the state's cash-strapped public schools over the next four years.

"We are pleased that the process worked like it is supposed to," says NJEA President Barbara Keshishian. "The US Department of Education asked for sign-on from local education groups for a reason. It wanted to ensure that educators' voices were heard and their ideas incorporated into the states' applications."

A cash infusion would possibly allow school districts to reverse some of the layoffs they're implementing.

"We are extremely pleased that the 200,000-member NJEA has agreed to endorse our application and its bold reform agenda designed to improve education in New Jersey," says Schundler. "The NJEA's support for our Race to the Top application supplements the endorsements we have already received from the American Federation of Teachers affiliate in Newark, and from the superintendents and school board presidents in more than 430 districts."

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