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Greenstein-Beach Measure To Allow Military Spouses To Teach In New Jersey Schools Heads To Governor

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

Bill Would Provide Temporary Teaching Certificates to Qualified Military Spouses

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Linda R. Greenstein and Jim Beach that would support military families and ease their transition into New Jersey by allowing qualified military spouses to teach in New Jersey schools while completing additional requirements for teacher certification received final approval today in the General Assembly.

“While our service men and women are heroes to this country, they are not the only ones who make tough sacrifices to protect our nation. Their spouses and families often endure long times separated from their loved ones and have to move regularly, causing them to lose out on career opportunities and advancement,” said Senator Greenstein, D-Middlesex and Mercer. “By providing military spouses who hold a teaching certificate or license from another state with the ability to continue their teaching careers while working through New Jersey’s licensure process, we can provide some relief from wage loss and unemployment for these families.”

The bill, S-1927/A-2892, would require the state Board of Education to issue temporary instructional certificates to nonresident spouses of active duty members of the Armed Forces who are subject to a military transfer into New Jersey. When issuing these certificates, the Board of Education would consider whether the military spouse holds a valid and current teaching license in another state for which there is an equivalent grade-level or subject endorsement, has taught successfully for at least three years, has met New Jersey’s grade point average requirement for instructional certification or has completed continuing education courses. The temporary certificate would be valid for 180 days and may be extended for an additional 180 days to provide the military spouse with the opportunity to meet New Jersey’s teaching certification requirements.

“By offering trained educators the ability to continue their teaching careers when moving into New Jersey due to military transfers, we can say ‘thank you’ for their family’s sacrifice for our country’s protection,” said Senator Beach, D-Camden and Burlington. “There are hundreds of thousands of military spouses who hold employment licenses in the United States, from teachers to nurses, and a lack of license portability can block employment opportunities. New Jersey will continue to welcome military families into our state, and the Legislature will continue to work to make that transition as simple as possible.”

According to the US Department of Defense, 26 percent of military spouses are unemployed and currently seeking work – which is more than three times the national unemployment rate. Additionally, one-third of all military spouses work in a field that requires state licensure with teaching being the most common occupation for a military spouse.

Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have been promoting spousal license portability for military families. Currently 23 states have adopted legislation to support military spouse professional license portability. A measure that would provide temporary nursing licenses for military spouses was signed into law in December.

The bill was approved unanimously in the Senate in March. It was approved today in the Assembly with a vote of 76-0. It now goes to the Governor’s desk.

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