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New Jersey Bill on Dismissing Tenured Teachers Advances

A New Jersey Senate panel advanced changes to tenure laws that would make it easier for administrators to fire ineffective public-school teachers.

The measure, sponsored by Senator Teresa Ruiz, a Democrat from Newark who heads the Senate Education Committee, was approved unanimously today by the chamber’s budget panel. Governor Chris Christie, a 49-year-old Republican, has pushed for similar changes since last year.

“We have been supportive of Senator Ruiz’s efforts on tenure reform and will await the final bill,” Michael Drewniak, a Christie spokesman, said by e-mail.

Under the Ruiz measure, school districts could strip educators of tenure if they are deemed ineffective in two consecutive performance reviews. The bill would also lengthen to four years the time it would take to earn tenure.

“We are sending a great salute to the most important profession in New Jersey,” Ruiz said in Trenton. “As a person in my household who was the first to go to college, education becomes a crucial tool, the most important.”

Ruiz said the legislation would set common teaching standards statewide and would benefit students by ensuring they have effective instructors. The bill next heads to the full Senate. It must pass both legislative chambers to move to Christie’s desk for consideration.

The state’s biggest teachers’ union, the New Jersey Education Association, supports the bill in its current form. President Barbara Keshishian cited the removal of a provision that would have ended basing job cuts on seniority, a change advocated by Christie.

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