September 29th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Public school teachers pass math & reading tests themselves?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is shaking up the state's education system - and the other 49 states ought to take notes.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/09/29/art.math.class.jpg caption=""]
Christie is out with a plan to reform New Jersey's public schools... that would base teachers' pay hikes on students' performance, and not seniority or tenure.

The Republican governor wants all teachers in kindergarten through fifth grade to pass tests in reading and math themselves in order to be certified. What a novel concept.

Christie says this could lead to quote "the firing of lousy teachers and bad principals who hurt our children." unquote. Here's a rare politician who gets it.

Under the current system, teachers earn tenure after 3 years on the job. But Christie wants to put an end to that... along with raises based only on seniority or advanced degrees.

And that's not all. He wants to select master teachers - and pay them more. so good teachers stay in the classroom, rather than leaving for administrative jobs that pay more. And he wants to offer merit raises for teachers who work in low-performing schools.

Teachers unions are not too happy with Christie's plan - no surprise there. They don't like the idea of tying teacher evaluations too closely to students' scores - saying other issues play a role, like the students' experiences at home.

But education experts are praising Christie... saying his plan will "dramatically improve" the quality of education in the New Jersey public schools.

The state legislature will have to approve changes to seniority and tenure - but the rest of the things Christie signed into law with executive orders.

Here’s my question to you: Should public school teachers have to pass math and reading tests themselves?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

C. writes:
I'm one of the former young teachers who left after 5 years out of college. Why? The tenured sat in the lounge smoking (it was the '70s) and grousing and telling us whipper-snappers not to work so hard. We were too enthusiastic. Loved the kids, not most of the peers. Not much has changed, has it? You go, Christie.

James in North Carolina writes:
Jack, Certainly they should but the teachers' union would never allow it. The school system exists to serve the teachers, even more so the massive administration and its layers of excess personnel. Who could force the teachers to take the tests? They are above the law.

Mike in New Mexico writes:
I would assume that teachers DID take these tests through college, beginning with the SAT. Had they not passed, they would not have been hired as teachers. I think we should give teachers the benefit of the doubt, and stop trying to politicize the education system. To educate our children, parents must take responsibility… Look at what classes your children are in. Make them study. Turn off the TV and video games. Demand your brats behave.

Jeff in Hawaii writes:
Jack, I think it's a great idea. Growing up in California, I had a soccer coach who taught Government, a football coach who taught Health, a chemistry teacher who majored in English, and a History teacher who knew only what was in our outdated 1953 textbooks. Testing teachers is the only sure way to know if they are competent to lead a class down the path of knowledge, not the path of learning by rote.

Meg in Ohio writes:
I taught high school English for 30 years and was a competent, effective teacher. It took some time on the job to get there, but I did. Tenure and seniority rules need to go, I agree. But there are factors that teachers can't control or influence and the student's readiness to learn and parental support are two of them.

Frankie writes:
You would think so. Here is another no-brainer: There should not be one single school in America where the wealthiest citizens would be afraid to send their children. This could be known as equality.

Filed under: Education
soundoff (156 Responses)
  1. John from Alabama

    Jack: Teachers should pass certification exams for the area subject matter they are to teach. Some states and school systems require teachers to take an pass the National Teacher Exam. Many universities and colleges require teachers to pass an exit exam before graduating with a teaching degree. To pass all these exams reading is a requirement, and basic math is also required. Good teachers are accountable, responsible, and definitely crazy to put up with the politics of funding education, but everyday teachers do the job no parent wants to do.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
  2. Russ in PA

    Why not just end the public schools altogether, and let parents choose from the private schools that would crop up. At least then they would have freedom of choice, and be able to afford schooling for their children.

    No reason why those of us without children need to keep paying high property taxes to support public schools that can't perform.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  3. Brian, Baton Rouge

    Absolutely. You can't teach what you don't know.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:44 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    Only if they have the opportunity to "bone up".

    We should have learned that from "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?"

    The questions are taken from the actual study subjects of the 5th graders......which most of the contestants can barely remember years later.

    In case you are not familiar......educators have to study the material they teach, as much as the students do, to be sure they are fully prepared to teach it.

    Educators get a real bad rap, from most school systems and parents, because they expect the teachers to compensate for all the things the PARENTS don't do. Like teach kids manners.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
  5. Greg in Cabot, AR

    Absolutely, but let's "kick it up a notch" and have ALL elected public officials take the same tests and then publish the results.

    It might explain the failing grade Congress has been getting lately as it appears their reading, comprehension and math skills are somewhere around the "pre-school" level.

    September 29, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
  6. Tom in Desoto, Tx

    So, you're asking if teachers should be competent? Just checking.

    September 29, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
  7. Judy

    What an inane question, Jack. Teachers need to come to the table ready to teach and to teach in a way that engages the students. I have always been supportive of most teachers, but I believe we need year round school and teachers need to keep or upgrade their skills like the rest of the us do for our jobs. My employer never gave me the summer off to take classes. I had to take them at night or weekends. My workday never ended until my work was up to date. Most of us have to work hard everyday and a great of us never receive overtime pay. Teachers need to buckle down and we need to help them by reducing classroom size. The bottom line is that some teachers need to find a new profession. Our children deserve the very best in every school.

    September 29, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  8. Tina Tx

    Yes they should. Do you want your children taught by someone who cannot teach them to learn. Isn't this why we pay taxes to get outstanding teachers in our public schools? What happened?

    September 29, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
  9. J. K. Brown

    Jack there is already a shortage for qualified teachers in this country. To demand that educators should know their material before "teaching" it to our children seems to be asking quite a bit in today's America. Don't you think?

    September 29, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
  10. Loren

    Of course, teachers should be able to pass tests on the subjects they teach, how can you teach what you don't know? Surely we have fallen through the looking glass when people are teaching subjects they don't know.

    September 29, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
  11. James in Greenville, NC

    Jack, certainly they should but the teachers' union would never allow it. The school system exists to serve the teachers......even more so the massive administration and it's layers of excess personnel. Who could force the teachers to take the tests? They are above the law.

    September 29, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
  12. Ed from Port Aransas, TX

    As a group, doctors and lawyers have a higher percentage of incompetence than teachers; however, the "vouchers for private school crowd" want you to think otherwise. You want better education? Make class sizes smaller and get the parents involved.

    September 29, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  13. Eugene Myers Flat, CA

    Jack, I come from a family of teachers and they're always required to take refresher class to update their teaching skills and this is on their own time. However, if a teacher is having problems, they should be required to take tests, to find their weaknesses and improve.

    September 29, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
  14. Jane (Minnesota)

    I think they should.

    September 29, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
  15. Floyd Burgess

    They do here in California. All teachers and substitutes have to pass the California Basic Education Test (CBEST) in order to get their credential. This includes math, reading comprehension and English grammar.

    September 29, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
  16. chris

    well yes but also not to put too much in math and sciece i mean the algrbra and stuff above that should be optional only if you will use it in like i never needed algebra or spanish but we also need to teach common snse and have children lean common stuff like to look around att he place you are eating at to observe for example the restroom without asking especially when there is 4 sides to the business with all that having the teachers have to take the test would be the best thign to do i am glad i was not in highschool now causew i would not be able to shoose what if i want a soda or not now they make the decisons for us so i am glad i out ive been for 12 years now

    September 29, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
  17. Floyd Burgess

    They do here in California. All teachers and substitutes have to pass the California Basic Education Test (CBEST) in order to get their credential. This includes math, reading comprehension and English grammar.

    September 29, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  18. Eric R

    As a person in the education industry I say YES, and they should make the results public, and then have to re-test every two years. This is no different than any other person who has to take training or get recertified once something expires, this will also show the students that homework doesn't stop because you are a grown up.

    Eric R
    Towson, MD

    September 29, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
  19. Arlene, Illinois

    As a mother of 2 daughters who teach in low income school
    districts, how do you think they got the jobs in the first place. They
    both took teacher jobs that started in the mid $ 30's and could have sought jobs that paid much more. Teachers are a dedicated brand.
    And yes they had to pass math and reading tests!
    And yes they did pay off their student loans.

    September 29, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
  20. Kevin in Dallas

    Of course they should. If they don't know how to solve for x, how are they going to teach someone else to?

    September 29, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
  21. Pete from Georgia

    Jack, are you serious ??
    Are you trying to introduce acountability to the American way of life ??

    No chance.

    September 29, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
  22. Olga

    When I was teaching sixth grade back in the early 80s, I was hired out by the district to teach teachers how to do well in their state mandated proficiency test...

    Needless to say, there were quite a few of them that could not construct a complete sentence, much less pass a simple competency test.

    So I say that a general competency test covering all areas of their teaching tasks would be in order. If you are going to clean up the teaching ranks, don't do things half way.

    To get rid of incompetent teachers, though, is the tough question here.

    Austin, Texas

    September 29, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
  23. Fred R DeLeon Sr

    Public School teachers should take a test every year to learn if there is any new development in teaching. They MUST do it, doctors, lawyers,
    engineers, professors of higher education do it. But NOT THEMSELVES since nepotism is there.

    Indianapolis IN

    September 29, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
  24. Bizz Quarryville Pennsylvania

    If you can't pass a math or reading test then you should not be teaching. I think our education system needs to be fixed immediately. The first thing you need is knowledgeable teachers with good teaching skills that makes teaching fun for their students. You can have the most modern schools with up to date equipment, but if you don't have a teacher that knows what he or she is talking about then it means nothing. This is definitely one problem we should not play politics with. The future of this nation depends on our gov't getting together and fixing this problem. This country has been destroying itself within for a long time, and the condition of our education system is a good example.

    September 29, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
  25. Joe R - Houston

    Forcing teachers to be graded like students private sector employees would be humiliating. Maybe if the scores were kept confidential and they had no effect on pay or employment it would be okay, but those that can't do – teach. That's a rule, isn't it?

    September 29, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
  26. kk

    Yes and the creator of the test should have to pass it as well.

    September 29, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
  27. Susan from Idaho

    Of course I know of a teachers aide here in Idaho that uses the term "it don't matter" how could we allow this in our public school?

    September 29, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
  28. Gerry

    If the teachers can't pass the math and reading exams how can they teach their students? We have an extreme shortage of good teachers and were filling the vacancies with below average educators. We need to raise the bar on teaching standards and encourage those teachers to take the classes necessary to raise their proficiency. We also need to gain parents support in educating their children. Nothing is more discouraging to a teacher than having a student that doesn't want to learn.

    September 29, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
  29. Alex in Gig Harbor, WA

    Yes! It would be nice if the teachers were smarter than the students.

    September 29, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
  30. Mike in St. Paul

    If teachers' pay is going to be directly tied to students' performance, I foresee a lot of teachers who are going to pander to their classes so the students like them and they can get paid...or A LOT of A's for people who can't find the grammatical error in this sentence.

    September 29, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
  31. Rob in NC

    As a teacher myself, I have no problem with taking a test, and I agree all teachers should be able to pass tests for what they teach. I do, however, see a problem with merit pay because of the wide gap in student ability. AP and honors classes are not the same as inclusion classes with students who have learning disabilities or limited English proficiency. These teachers work just as hard to have their kids pass but there are limitations to what these students can do on a test. Rob in NC

    September 29, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
  32. Jim


    There's no question that teachers at all levels should be required to demonstrate at least acceptable minimum levels of competence in reading and math and probably other skills such as grammar and basic science. But passing such tests doesn't guarantee that one is a good teacher. We all remember them, the rare ones who not only knew their stuff but could communicate it with crystal clarity. Such teachers are rare and deserve to be paid as much as doctors, lawyers, and engineers. How do we train such teachers? How do we identify them? How do we retain them? These are the questions begging for answers. Christie's plan is a start, but it just scratches the surface.

    Reno, Nevada

    September 29, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
  33. Al, Lawrence KS

    I'm all for that as long as all of our politicians take and pass the same test. I suspect that most teachers would pass and most politicians would fail.

    September 29, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  34. Jon

    no brainer. Of course they should. But the ones writing the bill should have to pass a test about the bill they sign as well.

    Lima, Ohio

    September 29, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  35. Dave, Orlando, FL

    I have no problem with teachers having to pass tests on the subjects they teach. That’s a no-brainer. But I draw the line on student’s scores being used to evaluate the teacher. My experience has been that you can get very different results between any two random groups of students. As a teacher, I have found that one class will be very receptive to the subject matter and laugh at your jokes and the next class (on the same day in the same room) will be like teaching a group of rocks – and the same jokes fall on the floor in front of you. Go figure.

    September 29, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  36. Rich McKinney, Texas

    Yes, I think they should. Just because a person has a degree in teaching does not mean they can teach, it simply means they have the schooling required to teach. I think the biggest part of the problem with our school system today is tenure. All tenure means is you have been there a while. It does not mean your any good at teaching. With unions behind teachers it is extremely hard to get rid of bad teachers that stink at teaching. As far as a part of teaching being what a student's home life is like it is the same for the teacher. If a teacher has a miserable home life they are not going to be worth a damn at teaching classrooms of children all day. Attitudes are contagious and it is a two way street when it comes to teachers and students.

    September 29, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  37. J. L. Caldwell, Jr.


    Testing teachers for their math and reading ability would only prove that they may or may not know the subjects. There are some teachers who simply don't know how to relay their knowledge to students. That's where the real problem is.

    September 29, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  38. steve in fl

    Of course they should, but student performance is only half of the story on teachers effectiveness, and certainly has a more complex solution thatsimply busting a union. Maybe the gov should take a few tests himself on filling out applications.

    September 29, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
  39. Mr. D

    Sounds like a great idea. It would be good for the teacher and the students. Let's get it done throughout the country.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
  40. Paul in New Port Richey, Fl

    Not only should teachers be required to pass math and reading they should have a flexible pay plan that rewards 'certified' success via graduation rate or penalizes failure. While your at it; dump the unions and the Department of Education. Both are failures.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
  41. Frank in Indiana

    Teachers in Texas took watered down courses. It was so bad the capstone course in math was to read the book used the senior year in HS and study it. No calculus, just pretty much watered down k-12 material.

    Education majors are a joke, bottom of the barrel in GRE and SAT scores going back decades. Go look it up.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  42. Terry in Chandler, AZ

    Teachers need to be held accountable and the good teachers should be compensated for high performing students. There are scores and scores of teachers in improvished schools with students who live in undesirable family situations who produce outstanding students. Good, really good teachers can bring out the best in students.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  43. Kurt Chicago

    Well Jack,

    Abosolutely yes! Why would I go to a dentist and the dentist himself has bad teeth. This is certainly attacking the core of the problem, so many children want to learn verses those who do not. What incentive was there or is there in place for teachers to teach. All the peacemeal efforts certainly are'nt making the grade. How could a chef be proud of his food if knowone enjoys it, suffice to say how can a teacher teach and knowone is learning a darn thing. "Oh yeah," that's something to be really proud of. So what's the problem Educators, teach the children and make a lot of money, and put this country back on the damn map!

    September 29, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  44. Michael H. in Albuquerque, NM

    I would assume that teachers DID take these tests through college, beginning with the SAT. Had they not passed, they would not have been hired as teachers. I think we should give teachers the benefit of the doubt, and stop trying to politisize the education system. To educate our children, parents must take responsibility to be involved. Look at what classes your children are in. Make them study. Turn off the TV and video games. Demand your brats behave. Parents must stress the importance of graduating and pursuing higher education. Leaving the responsibility of parents up to the politics of educational systems is the cause for failure. A failure that no political party will overcome.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  45. Jeff In Minnesota

    Obviously the education system is broken and there also needs to be a way to evaluate teachers in a fair and objective manner. Student performance needs to be in that equation, but I am concerned as to just how much role it should have because tying a teachers performance to their students is problematic. In a perfect world, it would not be a problem, but we do not live in a perfect world. If the parents do not support the educational process, then how is it a teacher's fault for that situation? This is particularly true in school districts where parental involvement is low or non-existent. Teachers in such districts would be forever behind the eight ball no matter what they did and under such a program, you would be creating a revolving door for teachers. This is not as simple an issue as everyone would like to make it and will take some effort to come up with a workable solution. However, as usual, both political parties treat it as a black & white issue with a black & white set of answers and it is an issue full of grays.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  46. ~BEVERLY~Mystic,Iowa

    YES! While they're at it, they can learn some civics, world & U.S. history, English Lit., grammar, & nutrition.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:05 pm |

    tampa, fl i suppose our politicians are now blaming a poor education on how they themselves can't balance a budget or have any morals? maybe we should have tests, licenses, and bonding our our politicians too.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
  48. Joe CE

    There is flaw in basing on student performance. Some students are well prepared and get all kinds of assistance our of school while others are oppoaite. Perfotmance is often related to specific schools Charter schools otten touted as better can pick and choose therir students – thwy drop poor performers. If student performance is used, a baseline for each sgool must be the starting point. Longer school days and a longer school year are other panaceas proposed. This is nonsense, we meed to cullout the poor performers & behavior problems and put them in special classes so that they do not ho;d back the entire group.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
  49. Gail in Houston

    Of course they should be required to pass the math and science tests. There are many, many fine teachers out there, and there are also a minority of poorly qualified teachers as well. Discipline is needed in a profession as imporatant as teaching our children and young adults. Taking the easy path of being lax has been increasingly damaging to the national education level. In order for good educators to flourish they need the support of the parents and the enforcement of civil behavior in the calssroom and the educational institute itself.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  50. Phil in Port St Lucie, Florida

    If every teacher has a Degree, then "no, they shouldn't".

    They've passed innumeral tests to receive their Degree. And testing of that type, doesn't prove an ability to impart knowledge and understanding of any subject matter.

    Why shouldn't a person that "wants" to teach, be expected to fulfill at least one full semester of "teaching instruction", wherein they learn "how to" impart "understanding" to students?

    "Tenure" is a thing of the past.

    "BUT!" When an individual does go into teaching, their future employment should not come under scutiny for any reason, except the ability to provide the understanding of the subject(s)!

    September 29, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
  51. jeff in hawaii


    I think it's a great idea. Growing up in California, I had a soccer coach who taught Government, a football coach who taught Health, a chemistry teacher who majored in English, and a History teacher who knew only what was in our outdated 1953 textbooks. Testing teachers is the only sure way to know if they are competent to lead a class down the path of knowledge, not the path of learning by rote.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
  52. Ed's Kate

    ABSOLUTELY. I know from experience what happens when a student is smarter than the teacher in math. This particular teacher gave the 3 top math students in her class B-minus marks when all three had all been A-plus students up to her class. When they questioned her about their mark they were told that in order to get A's in her class they had to do extra work above and beyond what was required in class. Two sets of parents objected and told their child that was not right. She was to grade them on their classroom participation, tests taken in class and their homework. The other parents told their son to do the extra work. GUESS WHAT? He did all that extra work and STILL RECEIVED a B-Minus on his next report card. The upstart of all of this is that she was intimidated since some former classmates of her said, "What is she doing teaching Math. She was the dumbest one in all our Math classes." Thought you would get a charge out of this true story, Jack.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
  53. Minesh - Troy, MI

    Jack, teachers must be required to perform. Unfortunately as long as the unions have a seat at the Democratic Party table – do not expect these reforms to take place in other cities.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
  54. Geri

    Yes they should take these tests, though the exact or preferred answers are always listed in the teacher's edition of the texts used by students.

    Several years ago I spoke to my 7th grade teacher who later became a high school principal, he told me that the class of '64 was the last great class to graduate from high school. After 1964 education began to go downhill due to the "unions" taking over the system. This is when teachers became blue collar workers instead of professionals.

    Last year when I showed up the first day to substitute the science teacher at the middle school told me, "Don't worry about teaching the students anything interesting or broadening their understanding of the subject, the state and school district just wants to make sure that the students pass the general education tests." He is definitely disgusted with the entire situation, including the students who don't want to learn anything and the parents who don't care if their children learn anything or not.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
  55. Joanne

    Jack, are your kidding us? Teachers might not be able to pass math tests themselves? If they cannot pass – fire them immediately ! Or perhaps put them in the first grage class.
    Parents need to become more involved to teach their children, and teachers need to be taught values of life as well. The lack of respect for life, and others has caused these tremendous problems we have today.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  56. NM in TX

    Yes, teachers should take qualifying exams for their licenses. To practice most professionals must pass their respective licensing exams: medicine, real estate, law, mental health, all, must demonstrate their competence to offer their craft to the public.
    This is more true for teachers. Their clients have little to no choice and no way to seek a new professional if they are not satisfied with the services they are provided.
    This may be an area a creative law firm could address. The legal field of professional malpractice in teaching is wide open and waiting.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
  57. Andy Lynn, MA

    Jack, I'm in my earliy 60's. I can remember when my country, America, was first in the world in everything; education, medicine, science, etc. Then came the permissive 70's. Schools can't give failing grades to students because it will scar the children for life. The bet teacher left teaching for better pay. Teachers salaries need to be conmeasurate with their responsibilities. We were once a country that believed in excellence. We had leaders that inspired us, to wit; Jack Kennedy. We, as a nation, have lowered our standards to the point where we are no longer in the top ten world wide in any area. Should teachers have to pass literacy tests; Hell Yes! How can one teach when one can not pass basic and reading.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
  58. Chelle

    Absolutely they should. Granted parents need to be more involved in their child's education, but teachers should have to be qualified first. Every other job (union or non-union) requires constant improvement, why would a teacher who holds our future in his/her hands be any different? Great teachers also need to be paid way more!!!

    September 29, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  59. James Jones

    Good idea Mr. Christie..let's see how intellligent teachers are.
    Add to that Americans should start a petition to have all 535 Congress and all of those i n the Whitehouse to take an easy High School intellligence test !! That would be hilarious...

    September 29, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  60. Chuck in Ohio

    Jack: No! How did they get a teaching certificate? They had to pass a test long before they started teaching.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
  61. Michael Roepke - Dallas

    In some of our schools, teachers are nothing more than glorified baby sitters. Does anyone require baby sitters to pass math and reading tests?

    September 29, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
  62. Meg from Troy

    Of course, teachers should be competent in the areas that they teach. I taught high school English for 30 years and was a competent, effective teacher. It took some time on the job to get there, but I did. Tenure and seniority rules need to go–I agree. But there are factors that teachers can't control or influence and the student's readiness to learn and parental support are two of them. So, I hope that educational reform all over America will include not only teachers, but administrators, students, and parents as well.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
  63. Dennis north Carolina

    they should have to pass tests for the subjects that they are teaching our children. they should be tested every five years to see that they are current on those subjects. pay should be rate on success true success only.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
  64. Al Bledsoe in Dallas

    Isn't it sad to have to suggest this?
    But motivation is the real indicator for teaching. That coupled with a passion for instilling confidence and work ethic in children is essential.
    Can that be tested? Aren't we missing the point that the real problem is the cultural slide in education quality investment? And what of the parent's responsibility?

    The problem is not the teacher. It is the pay scale: you get what you pay for. Pay more for quality teachers and I will teach! The reality is, and I have seen this first hand, the people that work in education are in a third world economic zone.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  65. frankie

    You would think so..... Here is another no-brainer: There should not be one single school in America where the wealthiest citizens would be afraid to send their children. This could be known as equality.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  66. Carol, WI

    Don't teachers already have to pass math and reading tests to graduate college? Wouldn't those college tests be more difficult than the tests required for the public school students the teachers are instructing?

    September 29, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
  67. Richard35

    Passing tests for teachers isn't all that is required for a good education. The Parents Must be involved with their child's education! Otherwise nothing will be accomplished.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
  68. Gordon NJ

    If some teachers can't read and write, then NJ needs to decertify the colleges that gave them their degrees. If teachers give their kids passing grades they don't deserve, then those teachers need to be decertified. However, despite Christie's constant slander against New Jersey teachers, our public schools and teachers are consistently rated among the best in the nation. The great majority of NJ teachers deserve to be praised, not abused as political pawns.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  69. Simon, FL

    Absolutely. It just seems reasonable that they shoud be proficiant in the subjects they teach. Which means that the union will be strongly outspoken against it. Teachers unions have wrecked havoc with the educational system in this country.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
  70. JENNA

    Should public school teachers have to pass math and reading tests themselves?

    Of course they should. How can they teach what they have no grasp of themselves?

    Roseville CA

    September 29, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
  71. Mike, NH

    Yes Jack. It's about time the teachers get held accountable for their performance. Of course the union doesn't like it. Unions are why this country is in the mess it's in now.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
  72. Allen in Hartwell GA

    Jack, what they should do is like we did in the military: make promotions (or in this case raises and/or keeping your job) a combination of points earned from evaluations and test scores.
    In my humble opinion the unions don't have a say-so in this matter. This isn't about them – it's about the kids.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
  73. John - Texas

    Teachers passing reading and writing tests; what a novel idea. Absolutely, many of todays teachers are products of this broken system so they should be tested. We stand no chance of bringing our education system up from the bottom of those in the industrialized nations if we don't insist on quality educators. It really doesn't matter though if we don't care about our childrens future and we just want to pay somebody for doing nothing.

    September 29, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
  74. aj

    Good for him, i hope he gets it passed!

    September 29, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
  75. Harold in Anchorage,

    Those who can DO, those who can't TEACH!!

    September 29, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  76. Brian (From Chicago)

    Absolutely! Sometimes the answers are so simple it's scary. How can you teach something you don't know. Any teacher against this are worried they can't past the test and doubts their own teaching skills. Thanks Govenor Christie

    September 29, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  77. Remo, from beautiful downtown Pflugerville Texas

    If you can't talk the talk and walk the walk, yep it's good bye slacker. It would be like having a doctor learn surgery by playing that kids game "Operation".

    September 29, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  78. Cal from Norwalk,Ohio

    Jack, is this a trick question?! Absolutely! If our children and our
    grandchildren have to pass exams in order to move on up in school,
    how crazy is it, that the people who are giving the exams, shouldn't
    have to do the same! C-R-A-Z-Y!!

    September 29, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  79. honest John in Vermont

    Duh...yes good idea to make sure the teachers can read and write before they teach it. What a concept.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  80. Kooky in CA

    Great idea. Too many good teachers are trying to teach our kids while the lousy ones are resting on their laurels with a negative effect on education as a whole. Our teachers should be at least as smart as the kids they are teaching and many aren’t. Our kids are our future and they need a good education for themselves and our country to succeed. If they fail, we all fail. The education unions need to be for the kids, not the teachers.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  81. NM in TX

    Yes, teachers should take qualifying exams for their licenses. To practice; most professionals must pass their respective licensing exams: medicine, real estate, law, mental health, all, must demonstrate their competence to offer their craft to the public.
    This is more true for teachers. Their clients have little to no choice and no way to seek a new professional if they are not satisfied with the services they are provided.
    This may be an area a creative law firm could address. The legal field of professional malpractice in teaching is wide open and waiting.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  82. Jim S in Alabama

    Not only yes Jack, but Hell yes. If they can't pass the test for what they're teaching, then how are they going to impart knowledge to those they are teaching? It's way past time that we required teachers to be competent.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  83. Charles

    Yes! It's amazing that this is a novel idea. I hope other states follow suit.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  84. Don

    Are we to blame the teachers when the administration socially promotes the children? Are we going to blame the eighth grade math teacher for the functioning third and fourth graders he has been given?

    September 29, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  85. Scott S

    short simple answer: YES! We also need to add classes that teach common sense since it's at an all time low

    September 29, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  86. Eve Lemon, Texas

    The teachers should have to pass the tests if Christie and Congress have to pass tests on the legislation they pass. Incompetent teachers exist, but not nearly to the degree of politicians and the average American voter. Eve Lemon, Texas

    September 29, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  87. crazy babe

    i think they're right becuase some teacher know the stuff but they thave to learn how to explain it to the kids properly and in a way they can understand

    September 29, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  88. Kelly

    So, I think that teachers should definitely have to pass a reading/math test. If teachers expect students to pass the reading/math tests then the teachers should have to take and pass the test in order to teach what the students are learning. This is coming from a student who has had teachers that generally did not know what they were talking about.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  89. Peter

    In California they do have a basic skills test in Math and English that is required to even get into a teaching program, however the level of the questions underscore the importance placed on the results.

    The first math question (out of 50 questions) was "If John is 5 years older than Mary, in 7 years how much older than Mary will John be?"

    I rest my case!

    September 29, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  90. Miguel

    Why is it that we expect teachers to know what they are teaching? It disgusts me that we are trying to hold them accountable. They are only responsible for our children's future.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  91. Ann from Charleston SC

    Definitely. I taught with teachers who were pitifully uneducated. But, getting rid of incompetent teachers by itself will not solve our education problems. We need to learn how to teach children from those homes that do not support education, like a little girl in my class who burst into tears during the achievement test. When asked why she was crying, she said "Because my momma's boyfriend beat up on my momma." Or the children whose mother was found face down in the street with her eyes and tongue gouged out. Some children come from unimaginable environments, and we need to figure out how to reach them.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  92. Alan

    I am fortunate enough to work for a company that insists on personal development as part of the performance evaluation - and that includes reimbursement for college classes at 100% - very fortunate indeed! I think the same kind of enrichment should not only be extended to our teachers, but expected and also the expectation that our teachers take advantage of it. Yes, they should be able to pass tests that relate to their ability to teach, and yes... they should be comfortable with being held to a higher standard. Thank you Jack, you always deliver food for thought, and a good laugh too! ACE

    September 29, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  93. B. Klyde

    I have been a middle level provider for over thirty years (PA-C), and am required to have 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years as well as sit for my Nataional Boards every six years. At present I am finishing my PhD in public health. I have also been faculty in Physician Assistant programs. We are constantly monitored as to oiur performance levels. I advocate the use of manditory continuing education and retesting for teachers. Thank you.
    B. Klyde

    September 29, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  94. Becca

    As a high school student, I feel the problem is not unqualified teachers, but teachers who genuinely dislike teaching. If I ran a school, teachers would take an apathy test and I would only hire those who managed to actually get through to children. It's a horrible excuse to blame the home life of the student for not learning. Anyone can be inspired by education by a teacher who loves what they do.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  95. bob in florida

    Jack: I thought (amybe erroniously) that teachers HAD TO PASS testing BEFORE graduating college. But, I ALSO think it is a good idea to test teacher's acumen BEFORE hiring them. It also would seem to be a good idea that teachers be tested every five years TO RETAIN ANY TENURE they might enjoy.

    The first tool to a good education is a competent teacher. The second tool to a good education is a willing student. The third tool to a good education is a mentoring and motivating parent. ALL of the remaining tools to a good education WILL NOT WORK unless these first three tools are in place.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  96. Trish Lackey

    As a public school teacher, I feel it necessary to point it out that we DO have to pass reading and math tests. They are called the Praxis exams and I have taken eight of them. As a college graduate, I was required to take an elementary reading and math exam...what did my bachelor's degree mean? Not much. As a history major, a 100 question Praxis exam determined whether I was "qualified" to teach history, not my major! There seems to be the perception that we teachers are somehow lacking in our own basic education. This is not my experience at all! I wonder when we will start to hear about the parents' responsibility in the whole educational process? That discussion seems to be lacking...

    September 29, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  97. John Vaught

    Yes, of course. Teachers are in a position of public confidence, meaning that if you not competent or you screw up, others will get hurt (like being a doctor, school bus driver, stock broker etc), it should be "no brainer" that each and every teacher annually prove that they are still up to the job, and if they are not, than they should be dismissed.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  98. Rich McKinney, Texas

    Ummm.... Maybe. Tell me Jack, which language will the tests these teachers take be in? English or spanish?

    September 29, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  99. Shyenne Rebstad

    Absolutely! Our educators in this country share some blame that our country ranks twenty fifth in the world! In order for our future generations to compete in the global economy the must receive excellent education. If our educators cannot pass a competency exams, they are in the wrong profession! I am the single mother of a developmentally delayed child, my school systems idea of dealing with my sons problems is to say that we have a lack of discipline and that I should seek help in my community. Last time I checked our public school system was part of my local community!
    Shyenne Rebstad
    Jaffrey, NH

    September 29, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  100. Anthony from NJ

    I have a young son in the New Jersey educational system and am amazed by the rock bottom standards one needs to get a lame certificate. The education system is abysmal and my

    September 29, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  101. CJ Mehner

    Teachers in NJ must take exams to become certified to teach, that has been a condition of employment and certification for the last 30 years. The amount of misinformation that is flowing from Trenton is truly frightening. I'm not sure if it is because Christie is uninformed or if he's pandering for the publicity. Either way, he doesn't care as long as he gets his air time and damn the damage in the process. Why is there not even one mention that NJ is always in the top five states of all critical educational indicators? That just wouldn't fit his new national agenda.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  102. Weldon Booth

    YES! My wife is a teachers aid and had to pass a math and reading test in order to be hired. If teachers and aids cannot pass a test on the subject HOW CAN THEY TEACH IT ?
    WELDON, California

    September 29, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  103. Charlie

    Is this a trick question? Don't teachers have some sort of performance review. I hate to say this Jack but the unions protect the bad teachers.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  104. Jeff O.

    Yes Yes a million times YES! Don't you think our kids deserve to be educated by someone who is educated themselves? Teachers have too long become comfortable with the mediocracy of our education system. We need to know that our children are being educated by people who understand the subjects themselves. Our tax dollars deserve it too....

    Rancho Cucamonga, CA

    September 29, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  105. Tammy

    Jack, this is NOT a novel concept. To be a teacher, not only do you have to pass an acceptance test such as an SAT to get into college, THEN you must past at least the equivalent of Second-level algebra AND statistics, not to mention teacher program entrance exams which test reading, writing AND math at a higher level than SAT's. And like anything, if you don't teach math or reading, you will forget some of the things you learned in college. Everyone just LOVES to point fingers at teachers, which is hilarious seeing as how almost half the country can't tell you the VP's name.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  106. Dan


    Reading, yes. Math, no Reading is the gateway to most knowledge that is relevant in school teaching. Not everyone is good at math. Perhaps, though, having teachers pass exams in their own field–geography, history, science, etc.–would be a good idea.

    But, I suspect that teachers are not as bad that they are being made out to be. they have become the scapegoats. It seems like teaching is being reduced to a kind of hypodermic needle conception where the teacher simply injects knowledge into the student. Students are living, breathing human beings who come from particular situations at home and in their lives and neighborhoods. Teacher cannot control such things but can only try to overcome them on a case-by-case basis.


    September 29, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  107. tm1946

    Everyone of us, who thinks the children of the US are not getting the education they need and deserve while billions are spent on education, need only look at the teachers unions coming our against this governor. The unions want the money with no responsibility for the output. If the NJ teachers union had any interest in educating children, they would be standing beside this governor demanding this change. They do not because their existance has nothing to do with education.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  108. Joey

    I wouldn't want a chef who didn't study food, a car mechanic who didn't know cars, a plumber who knew nothing about plumbing, or a doctor who didn't study medicine, so why would I want a teacher who can't do math, read, or write teaching my kids?

    September 29, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  109. Ruth Hobbs

    Teachers should have to take tests to make sure they know the material they are going to teach the students. They should also be tested at a much higher level than they are teaching. And they should have to ACE the test. No B's or C's for them. If we have teachers who are currently teaching subjects that they cannot do themselves, how can we expect them to be able to teach our children that subject??? Commons sense says that we should expect our teachers to be highly trained in the subjects that they are teaching, and they should definitely be able to read and write. Raise all the requirements for teachers and our students will come out with an education.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  110. Dave Wyland Yankton, SD

    Heya Jack,

    From an email sent by a friend in the education field "They expect tenyered teachers to take reeding and math tests? I supose 80% will see it as an ok thing, the other 30% might have issues with it."

    Just kidding.

    Dave Wyland
    Yankton, SD

    September 29, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  111. DENISE

    I raised 3 children from pre-school-high school in a rural southern Cumberland County,NJ public school system during the 1990's thru the mid 2000's.My children have faired well considering their poor and or seriously lacking education.They all have worked continuously since their senior year in high school when most of their peers have floundered in minimum wage jobs or a life of crime.So many of my childrens childhood peers cannot read or write past a 4th grade level. A all American tragedy...

    September 29, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  112. Jim Blevins

    Certainly, teachers should be able to pass the tests, though for a variety of reasons, it might take more than one try. The larger implied question does not have so simple an answer. Winning generals are normally in the middle of their class. Edison would probably not have done well on the tests being contemplated. There is far more to an education than is shown by any given set of tests. Asians generally excel at tests, but lack the innovation associated with break-through inventions. We need to be sure that we don't loose good old "American know how" with an obsession for testing.

    Jim, Craig, CO

    September 29, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  113. John in Virginia

    make them pass the reading and math test and when they fail fire them. They hava already done enough damage.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  114. Susan Schandoney

    I am a teacher and we ARE required to take and pass reading and math tests. In Colorado, we have to take the PLACE or PRAXIS test on basic knowlege, education theory, as well as our content area. Without passing these tests, teachers are not given licensure. Most of us have not only our bachelor's degree, but also our master's degree, and have passed tests in order to be paid little and treated with disrespect by the government. As usual, kids and parents never take the blame for poor test scores. It's a sad reality.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  115. Kelvin from Scottsdale, AZ

    Dear Jack,

    In one word, YES! In fact, I wish they would do away with standardized testing and spend MY tax money on something productive like testing the teachers. Finally we could weed out the people bringing down the system and give our kids the education they deserve!

    September 29, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  116. Lorraine

    The very fact that you're asking this question is mind-boggling and not a little disturbing to me. I'm a Canadian middle school teacher with a Master's degree. Our pay grid is based on a combination of years of experience AND qualifications; the difference in pay for more qualifications makes it a no-brainer to get them.

    Teaching today is one of the hardest jobs in the world; you get what you pay for. By all means, make sure the people you're entrusting your children's futures to are capable themselves, and if they're not, show them the door.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  117. Dennis from Minneapolis, MN

    Mostly yes. I have one concern. We don't have enough teachers. A lot of schools are resorting to hiring Math or History teachers (example) to fill say a health teachers role or a music teacher. The curriculum is completely standardized in most of these classes, and requires assigning reading and then grading papers based on single option answers. So would you fire a smart math teacher who's filling in for say a... health teacher shortage? I think we're on the right track but maybe we should start by offering more competitive salaries... and then offering the tests. With more benefit there will be more demand for the jobs, and you can choose the best one. The idea does sound good on paper, but the problem still is, and always will be, no one wants these jobs....

    September 29, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  118. Anthony from NJ

    Jack, I have a son who just "graduated" a New Jersey high school. It's a farce now because the teachers are motivated to babysit rather than instruct. Standards are just thrown out the windows.
    I'm not enamored with Governor Christie but I think he has his hand on the fading pulse of education.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  119. J. Erickson

    If a teacher has a college degree, one would assume that they should have already passed a reading and writing test. If politicians don't think teachers can read and write or are incapable of teaching the subjects they are certified in then then they need to go after higher education training programs. Maybe someone needs to address the issue of schools being responsible for raising our nation's children. Maybe parents should start teaching social skills, drug/alcohol education, and sex ed and let teachers get back to the business of academics.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  120. jim

    should teachers pass test to be able to teach, you bet. Sadly no one holds the parents of the children to the same standards that we want to impose on teachers. If we did I doubt there enough qualified parents around to take care of them.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  121. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    If they want to keep a job, I say yes.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  122. Jill, Nevada

    It's an amazing concept to force teachers to actually know the content they are teaching. I think you're asking too much of them.

    In all seriousness, my daughter, as a high school senior a few years ago was greeted by her math (calculus) teacher who announced to the class on the first day of school he had no idea how to do the math he was supposed to teach and was not a math teacher at all, but had been a PE major. He said "we'll have to teach each other math this year."
    I wonder if they have this problem in Japan.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  123. Max

    "You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test." -Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001
    George W. Busch

    San Antonio Texas

    September 29, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  124. J Metzger

    In Indiana, our teachers have to pass a test that measures their reading, writing, and math skills before they even are admitted to the teaching program in college. Before they can be licensed teachers they have to pass the Praxis exams which not only test their knowledge of their subject areas, but also their abilities in reading, writing, and math. Why is the New Jersey governor's move such a big deal? It seems to me that the big deal is that they didn't have to do that already in New Jersey.
    On the subject of tenure, teachers can be fired after they are on tenure. The administrators just have to do their jobs in evaluation. Everyone makes such a big deal about tenure but it just protects someone from being fired on a whim or because the wrong student failed a class. If a teacher is not doing his or her job, the administrators give them a poor evaluation and suggested ways for them to improve. If they don't improve, they are fired. Case closed.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  125. Yvonne Mounts

    Before teachers are attacked, why doesn't the federal government take a look at the parents before attacking the teachers. I received my teaching degree at age 41 in 1995, and was very eager and excited to teach. I have been teaching 14 years, and I am convinced that PARENTS are the blame for the majority of education problems. We have 90% free and reduced lunches at our school, which says that most of these parents do not hold a job. So, guess what, by them not working they have more time to come to school and attack teachers. they have nothing else to do except wanting to show teachers how big and bad they are. I am sick of teachers getting the blame for students not learning. Take public assistance away from these parents and make them see what working is like. Children have no respect for their teachers because parents let them tell them what to do, or they are too occupied with the drugs, boyfriends, and girlfriends to take care of their children. The bottom line is when is parents going to be taught how to raise children before we can teach them. Parents have told me that it is not their job to help with homework, it is mine. Change attitude of parents and education will change.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  126. Carl

    Absolutely Not! Teachers today need to be caring and supportive individuals who nurture students and find unique ways to motive them to learn. Teachers who are effective have a wealth of interpersonal skills which are needed in todays society. They combine these skills with innovative and creative curriculum. Critical skills which are not measured by math and reading tests.

    Guelph, Ontario, Canada

    September 29, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  127. Andrew Tawes

    In most states teachers are required to have a college degree. You have to pass tests to obtain one. There are also the expensive Praxis tests you must pay for and pass in order to be a certified teacher, as well as yearly continuing education. Instead of giving our teachers another test, how about giving our law makers a basic civics test. Oh yea they already did that and most failed. If the law makers don't understand their area of profession i.e. civics then keep out of the education arena until they can pass a basic high school civics test.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  128. Danny Bucksnort Tn.

    Nah... It really doesn't matter Jack. 40 percent of those kids are going to drop out anyway. Hopefully the other 60 percent will be in classes that the teachers can read, write and add.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  129. Keith Edwards

    Testing, at best, reveals how well a student or teacher can recall discrete bits of data. The future demands teachers and students who can synthesize, analyze, and evaluate data, and examine problems from multiple perspectives, and create new solutions. Testing does not encourage these vital traits. This is nothing more than an appeal to the anger and frustration of parents by setting up teachers as targets.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  130. andrew in aberdeen

    Teachers should be able to read and do math? That makes as much sense as requiring pilots to pass flight school, soldiers to complete basic training, doctors and lawyers to pass their exams. The two problems with education, in this country, is that politicians are involved in every decision that school administrators make and that many students do not receive the support that they need in their homes. Resolve those problems and the remaining issues are easily resolved.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  131. Diann

    After teaching for thirty years, never have I come across a teacher who was not able to read or write. I would hope a school district would never hire someone so incompetent. We need to have an honest discussion on the educational system in this country and stop blaming teachers for everything that is wrong with the system. What is a classroom but a reflection of the society we live in. It is not an easy job and until we recognize and deal with the true realities of what it means to be a teacher there will be no effective change.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  132. jim

    I have to wonder where this nation will be in 10 years considering how we treat the teaching profession. 40 years ago our nation was begging people to go into teaching and now they blame them for everything. If Conservatives continue to believe our educators are over compensated who is going to spend all that money on an education and be treated like a cashier in a grocery store. Might as well save all that money spent on college.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  133. Bob in Texas

    Which education experts Jack? Anyone who knows anything about management knows you don't build teamwork and esprit decor by beating people up and pitting them against each other.

    The blame for the poor educational performance of our students lies with the students themselves and their lousy parents and administrations that value conformity over performance. Unless parents show students that school performance is important and take steps to insure that their kids take school seriously, there is no hope. Unless administrations take steps to help teachers rather then beating them up you'll never see any improvement.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  134. Bob Thomson

    So what will "Plan B" be if all of the teachers pass reading and math tests? I'll bet most of them will pass the test. I wish politicians and other critics of public education would give some thought to our modern society and ask "Is our society failing our schools?" Are children being nurtured at home. Are they living with an alcoholic or drug addict at home? Are the parents literate? Do the parents value and support education? Are the children living in neighborhoods plagued with abandonded houses and crack houses? Do the children have to worry about being raped or murdered on their way to school? Is the community poverty ridden? Keep thinking America – continue this list.

    Bob Thomson – Southfield, Michigan

    September 29, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  135. Lance, Ridgecrest, Ca

    Jack, absolutely they should have to pass reading, and math tests. They are supposed to have college degrees. However, the rating system that ties a teacher to the performance of the students is patently flawed. The drop out rate nation wide is the result of students not wanting or caring about their education. And why should they care? They are NOT expected to perform, school from middle through college is a social gathering, where students cannot be held responsible for their performance, tested for achievement, or disciplined when they misbehave. Until student responsibility and discipline are restored to the campus, the 25-50% of students who don't care will rule the schools.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  136. Jerry Jacksonville, Fl.

    It would probably do more good to test the idiots that came up with this ideal. The ones that need tested are the parents, A teacher can do just so much, I wouldn't attempt to teach the little heatherns that attend classes today, no respect for the teacher, foul language, smart mouthed, and no way to discipline them, poor teachers don't have a chance. The teachers need the authority to throw the little jerks out of class when they misbehave and require their parents attend a two week class on child raising before they can get back in class, maybe then the parents would take more interest in seeing that their children act in a respectful manner while in class.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  137. Lori - PA


    Yes they should. If the teachers can't pass the math and reading tests, then what business do they have teaching?

    September 29, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  138. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio


    New Jersey must have one peculiar teacher certification and glorification process to now realilze this problem ! I say if the teachers pass the 9th grade proficiency test, then by all means promote them to tenth grade. After all, 9th grade reading "skills" are good enough for the armed forces and if they read at the tenth grade level, they should give up teaching and apply for a homeland security or TSA job. Great question Jack, but we got troubles right here in "River City" to worry about the boardwalk state.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  139. Tony in Columbus

    There are certain jobs that unions are still needed. I don't think that Blue Collar/White Collar jobs don't require them. I agree with Gov. Christie. Promotions should be based on merit.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  140. Carl

    Absolutely Not! Teachers today need to be caring and supportive individuals who nurture students and find unique ways to motivate them to learn. Teachers who are effective have a wealth of interpersonal skills which are needed in todays society. They combine these skills with innovative and creative curriculum. Critical skills which are not measured by math and reading tests.

    Guelph, Ontario, Canada

    September 29, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  141. Annie, Atlanta

    I don't understand the game this guy is playing. How do teachers get certified in the first place? He's going after the money the state is paying teachers, and this game is going to ultimately hurt the kids. This is the kind of nonsense you get when wingnuts are in charge.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  142. andrew

    Reed, Right, Rithmatic shuld be rechoired of al teechrs.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  143. Tony in Columbus

    There are certain jobs that unions are still needed. I don't think that Blue Collar / White Collar jobs require them. I agree with Gov. Christie. Promotions should be based on merit.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  144. Kevin in CA

    I thought they did ... it's called a college degree.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  145. Rebecca


    Successful education of our youth is a combination of elements. Yes, teachers should be tested and continuing education a must. But let us look at the entire sitatuation: children must be motivated to learn and responsible for learning, teachers are teachers, not police officers, therapists, nurses, social secretaries, or the parents. Many parents today will not and do not stay on top of their children's homework or school work. I hear the comment. "That's what you go to school for!" Four of my children went to public schools. Three graduated. Two of them went to college on full schlorships, one on student loans and she completed grad school, one is now in Vet School and the other got his GED and is now a Combat Medic. The biggest problem in public education today is the social environment, the hostage taking of the teachers, parents who are lazy, students are bullies. I know because I have been there. I will be glad to help improve our education system here local. I will require I small paycheck. Sorry, I can not do it for free. But the throwing more money at education is not the solution to the problem. Besides the math doesn't work: less students than in the 1970's and it costs more??? It is time to do the hard but right thing. Let's ROCK!!!

    September 29, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  146. Sreeni Dalpatadu

    Yes, I do think that public school teachers should be requied to pass Math and English themselves. Clark county has switced from "Saxon math" to "envision math" and I noticed that my daughter's teacher had difficulty in explaining to me, how she teaches multiplication and division to her students. These days students are not required to memorize the multiplication tables. They are not taught that in 2nd grade; but miraculously they are suppose to know how to apply the multiplication tables from 2 to 12 and apply that to division too!!Mind you the kids have been in school for about 4 weeks. This particular teacher had to get her guide book to show me, how she taught a certain lesson last week. I wanted help so that I could guide my daughter, but found that even the teacher had difficulty in explaining it to me!!!!

    September 29, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  147. Wade in Las Vegas, Nevada

    I agree with this, but it is also the parent's responsibility to make sure the learning continues at home. The finger should not always be pointed at the teachers.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  148. Gerald Bender, retired (FL & PA)

    The tenure law does not protect poor teachers. However, it does insure that "due process" is observed. A deficient teacher should be identified and offered assistance by the administration. Many administrators do not take this obligation seriously and that responsibility is the greatest one they have. They have the power to eliminate poor teachers from their staff. Tenure only kicks in after an internship period and after that documentation is needed to protect the rights of all teachers.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  149. Denny Wagner

    I was just watching your report on teachers getting a pay raise or cut pending on the test scores of their students. No matter how well a subject is taught there will still be students who fail to make a passing grade. Lets put the blame right back on the parents who pay no attention to their child until their report card comes out. Then some are in shock and others just say oh well.....Take privileges away from students who make these failing grades and put them in 7th hours, time spent in special tutoring class after school, and make this mandatory. Or maybe make them drop elective classes and pick up a class that they barely passed. Don't accept anything lower than a C Grade. This may increase the drop out rate for those students who just don't care about their future but could be a wake up call for others.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  150. Kevin in CA

    Who's going to be smart enough to grade the test?

    September 29, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  151. Al

    The better question is, given that teachers have to pass examinations, is it now time for the Governor and his staff to pass similar examinations? Governor Christie claims to be fiscally responsible yet wants to spend money on an individual teacher evaluation program when he has yet to find the money owed to New Jersey school kids under state law. The Governor claims that New Jersey schools are failing at the same time that our kids commonly score at the top of national examinations, are welcomed by colleges throughout our nation, and so forth. He is responsible for the state losing hundreds of millions in Federal funding. His pay for performance theory would argue that much of his salary should be going to teachers. He has not explained how big he thinks the NJ education problem is- except to imply that we should sacrifice kids to break a union. Does it make sense to spend money to change a system when the problem is not systemic? The Governor argues for charter schools as the solution but charter schools are also funded by taxes in New Jersey, there is no saving. Further, the Governor has not presented any information regarding whether enough folks are lined up to create the charter schools needed to satisfy the problems he perceives. When it comes to education policy, it is clear that Governor Christie needs education more than he needs policy.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  152. Frank Drew Leyda

    Of course they should have to pass math and English test.
    I though they already had to !!11

    September 29, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  153. tom from chico,ca.

    qualified teachers keeping their jobs by merit makes sense,but teachers curently get hired if the principal likes them and they dont make waves,not by merit alone .

    September 29, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
  154. Bob Spads

    They have merit raises before. Usually amounts to peanuts as an incentive and soon dies away as a management tool. Money Jack. The only real incentive is real money. The best paid jobs get the best people, period. Make education a sought after well paid job and our best will apply. The best results will come from the best people. It’s what the way other countries that are kicking our butts in education are doing.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
  155. Christopher

    In my field, I choose to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies because it increases my sense of self satisfaction and increases my worth to my company. I find it grotesque that teachers can get tenure at all, and especially after a short period of time just for staying at a job they may not like and/or be good at. My tax dollars deserve to go towards those who choose to excel their teaching skills and help our children.

    September 29, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  156. Jason Duncan in Honolulu, HI

    Governor Christie likely misunderstands how teacher preparation programs and the licensure process works. As a teacher, I took several tests, including reading and math, to portray my competence. If politicians really want to reform education they need to open a dialogue with notable professionals working in the field and look at successful models at home and abroad.

    September 29, 2010 at 6:12 pm |