Could this help solve the teacher shortage in NJ?
👩🏫 A plan to encourage more NJ residents to become teachers
👩🏫 A 12-bill package focuses on cutting higher ed costs for wanna-be teachers
👩🏫 Additional legislation may soon follow
For the past several years New Jersey’s teacher shortage has been getting worse but efforts are moving forward to address the problem.
On Thursday, a 12-bill package was introduced to bolster the Garden State’s teacher workforce shortage, and the Assembly Education Committee held a special meeting to immediately advance seven of the measures.
According to Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt, D-Camden, the chairwoman of the Education Committee, the high cost of education, numerous barriers to entry and high personnel accountability with limited resources all play significant roles in the teacher shortage.
We need to cut costs
She said to get more teachers in our classrooms, “we need to remove the roadblocks that are there, which is the cost of higher education.”
She said the legislation that’s been introduced will “address the personal and financial cost of our teachers in the training of higher education."
She said when someone aspires to become a teacher, “it’s very hard for somebody to reach inside their pocket and pay for their tuition up-front."
She said that becoming a teacher involves a multitude of costs beyond simple tuition, including paying for things like practice exams and background checks, which can run thousands of dollars.
A collaborative effort
Lampitt said a special task force appointed by the governor has been working for months with teachers, administrators, parents, students, and legislators to develop specific bills that reduce barriers to entry for aspiring educators and the 12-bill package is the culmination of those efforts.
The package includes the following seven bills, which were advanced by the Assembly Education Committee on Thursday:
• A5416 Requires the State Board of Education to authorize alternate route to expedite teacher certification of persons employed as paraprofessionals in school districts
• A5417 Prohibits limiting number of county college credits that may be applied towards educator preparation program and teacher certification requirements
• A5418 Establishes Teacher Certification Reimbursement Fund in DOE to reimburse certain teachers for costs associated with certification
• A5419 Removes obstacles to teacher certification for certain teachers
• A5420 Establishes New Jersey Student Educator Stipend Program
• A5421 Directs State Board of Education to authorize issuance of new endorsements in certain fields
• A5422 Permits teacher, and professional staff member who provides special services, who retired from TPAF to return to employment for up to two years without reenrollment in TPAF if employment commences during the 2023-2024 school year
Five other bills have been referred to the Assembly Education Committee:
• A5423 Expands eligibility for NJCLASS Teacher Loan Redemption Program
• A5424 Provides deduction from gross income of $500 for full-time educators and paraprofessionals and $350 for part-time educators and paraprofessionals
• A5425 Requires State Board of Education to reduce clinical practice requirements for certain teacher candidates
• A5426 Establishes New Jersey Student Educator Tuition Remission Program
• A5427 Prohibits Commissioner of Education from approving certain tests for teacher certification candidates with extended retake waiting periods
Lampitt said this is “all about aspiring to, affording to, respecting to, right, and making the continual sort of affordability.”
She also said legislation that has been introduced is the start, not the end of the effort to encourage more people to become teachers in the Garden State.
“It’s going to take more to make this all work, okay, but the longer we wait to do anything to do anything about it, it’s just that much longer that our education system will suffer.”
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.