Trenton – As part of a continuing effort to address New Jersey’s teacher shortage, the Senate Education Committee released legislation sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal and Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz meant to help replenish the teaching ranks by establishing the Grow Your Own Teacher Loan Redemption Program within the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority.
The goal of the program is to encourage students who have graduated from a school district with a shortage of teachers to return to that district to teach.
“Our state’s growing teacher shortage is a threat to the education our students receive in the classroom. We must move urgently to shore up our teaching ranks, and this initiative will provide an added incentive for students who might be considering the profession to give back to the community from which they came,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth), Chair of the Senate Education Committee.
The program would provide for the redemption of a portion of a participant’s eligible student loan expenses for each year employed full-time in the school district from which the participant graduated, so long as the district has a shortage of teachers, as determined by the Department of Education.
The redemption program would also be available to people who have lived within the district for at least 5 years, even if they didn’t graduate from the district.
“This program and others like it have a proven track record across the country,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “It will build upon efforts to address teacher shortages in critical areas across the state and diversify our education workforce. New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the nation, and our teaching staff should reflect our students,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex).
The state’s Grow Your Own Teacher program would resemble other programs across the country, including a Newark partnership involving Montclair State University.
The bill, S-2008, was released by a vote of 5-0.