The New Jersey Teacher of the Year has penned an editorial on her union's web site, here, about her private meeting with Gov. Christie -- and she has some choice, tough words for the governor.
Christie is traveling throughout the state to meet with small groups of educators behind closed doors to discuss his plans to radically change the education system in New Jersey, and Teacher of the Year Danielle Kovach, who works in Sussex County, scored a meeting:
I felt like a kid about to take on the schoolyard bully. My rush of excitement was overtaken by childhood nerves as I walked onto the campus of the College of New Jersey, our meeting place. I did not know what to expect. All I knew was that teachers wanted a seat at the table, and I had gotten one.
As the meeting began, my nerves took a back seat to the governor's charm. Was this the same man portrayed in the media as a stubborn, tongue-lashing bully? As I listened to him, I was drawn in. He was the snake charmer and I the mesmerized snake. He is truly a master at this craft.
But Kovach says she "slowly came back to reality" as she listened to her colleagues' questions about the governors' ideas for merit pay, teacher evaluations and tenure reform. She "realized the danger in the governor's plans."
He would abolish teacher pay scales and base salaries on a teacher's "effectiveness," measured largely by student test scores. His merit pay plan would force teachers to compete with each other, putting an end to professional collaboration. Teachers are team players, working together, sharing lessons and relying on each other's expertise and experiences. Merit pay will pit teacher against teacher, ruining the "learning community" that characterizes great public schools.
Kovach's union, the New Jersey Education Association, spends more money lobbying and advertising against Christie than anyone or anything. In the editorial for the NJEA's web site, Kovach did not repeat the line she told to a local reporter after the meeting. She said she thought Christie "genuinely cared."
UPDATE: I just learned the op-ed first appeared in the Star-Ledger; it was re-printed by the NJEA.