A bill approved in Trenton on Monday by the Senate Education Committee would address a shortage of New Jersey math and science teachers.

Senator Jim Whelan (D), who teaches in Atlantic City and sponsors bill S-1718, said the current shortage of science and math teachers at the high school level is especially severe in urban communities.

“We’re behind, not just in New Jersey, across the country, of the rest of the world in what’s referred to in education circles as STEM – science, technology, engineering and math,” Whelan explained.

The bill would direct the Commissioner of Education to establish a program to issue subject area endorsements in math and the sciences to certified New Jersey teaching staff members who do not hold such endorsements.

Under the program, the endorsement, or specialty, would be issued upon a teaching staff member who passes the appropriate state test of subject matter knowledge and meets other criteria as the commissioner sets forth in regulation.

Whelan said, “If a qualified teacher demonstrates sufficient subject knowledge and a desire to teach, I don’t see any reason why the state shouldn’t give its full blessing.”

He said the goal is to have students continue their interest in the subject matter through college and, hopefully, their careers.