New Jersey Department of Education

January 4, 2011 – Education Reforms Would Allow Best and Brightest Managers to Be Hired As Superintendents in Failing Public Schools

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Alan Guenther, Director
Allison Kobus

Date: Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Trenton, NJ - Woodrow Wilson served as president of Princeton University and the United States, but under current state law, he couldn’t be a school superintendent in a failing New Jersey public school. Although Albert Einstein taught at Princeton, New Jersey laws would stop him from leading schools in the City of Newark.

People with talent, vision and a proven record of success are currently denied the chance to be hired as superintendents in New Jersey public schools because of restrictive laws governing the superintendent  certification process.  That’s why the Christie Administration is asking the State Board of Education to consider and approve new regulations that would allow the best and brightest people to help revitalize schools where at least 50 percent of the children are failing state achievement tests.

“It’s important that New Jersey public schools recruit and hire the most experienced, talented managers possible,” said Governor Christie.  “In large, state-run districts, or in schools that have failed our children for generations, we especially need leaders who know how to manage thousands of employees in districts that spend hundreds of millions in tax dollars.”

New revisions to the superintendent certification process proposed by the Christie Administration will provide greater flexibility to recruit the most talented and best prepared individuals to lead New Jersey’s school districts.  Under the plan, individual superintendent candidates in certain districts would need a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college and a review by the Commissioner of Education to determine whether the candidate has sufficient work experience to lead a school district.

“Good candidates are discouraged from applying to be school superintendents because New Jersey’s regulations are unnecessarily burdensome,” said acting Commissioner Rochelle Hendricks. “We need to open the doors of our public schools and let successful people with proven track records help us reform and rebuild schools where strong leadership and new ideas are needed the most.”

After a review by the Commissioner of Education, the superintendent candidate would be given a provisional license and allowed to begin work immediately with guidance from a state-approved mentor. After passing three performance reviews in one year, and with recommendation from the mentor, the superintendent would be eligible for standard certification.

Superintendents could be hired through this alternate route method for certification if they worked in one of the state’s 57 districts that need improvement, according to federal requirements. They would also qualify for alternate route certification in any state-run district, or in any district where at least 50 percent of the fourth, eighth, or 11th-grade students have failed state tests for the last two years for either language arts or mathematics.

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