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The Christie administration last week filed legal action with the state Supreme Court seeking to give the Commissioner of Education authority to set aside provisions of statute and collective bargaining agreements affecting employee retention and dismissal, including seniority, staff compensation, and instructional time.

The action seeks to reopen the Abbott v. Burke litigation, a series of Supreme Court decisions designed to improve educational opportunities for children in the state’s 31 poorest communities through state funding, facility improvements and additional programming, such as pre-school education.

In a prepared statement, Governor Christie said, “…more money alone does not translate into a better education. Better teaching methods, more instruction time and improved educational programs make the difference.”

“We can no longer tolerate a tenure law that places seniority above effectiveness, or tolerate limits on teaching time that restrict teachers to less than five hours of a seven-hour school day in districts where our students most need quality teachers and intensive instruction,” Christie continued.

Freeze Funding While the Administration’s legal action seeks authority to bypass statute and collective bargaining agreements “when necessary to maintain a thorough and efficient system of public schools,” it does not leave the issue of funding untouched. The action seeks to hold state funding for the 31 former Abbott districts at their current levels until a new school finance system is enacted.

[Next week’s School Board Notes will provide an update on current proposals to change New Jersey’s system of funding schools.]