TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz to establish a pilot program in the Department of Education to recruit men from a disadvantaged or minority background to teach in New Jersey schools under the alternate route teacher preparation program was approved by the Senate Education Committee.
“We cannot continue to ignore the widening teacher diversity gap we have here in our state. Research shows that increasing the number of educators of color in our classrooms in critical to a student’s academic success,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “This legislation is only a start; I look forward to holding a joint hearing early next year with the Senate Higher Education Committee and stakeholders to continue working on addressing this issue.”
Eligible participants would be required to meets the criteria for enrolling in the alternate route teacher preparation program, including State Board of Education requirements for obtaining a certificate of eligibility.
Under the bill, S-703, the Commissioner of the Department of Education would select six underperforming schools, as determined by criteria in the legislation, from throughout the State for participation in the pilot program. The bill would also direct the commissioner to establish policies and procedures for the recruitment and selection of eligible participants for the program, and for matching the selected participants to teaching opportunities at participating schools under the alternate route program.
The education commissioner would be directed to submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature with information on the implementation of the program and a recommendation on the advisability of continuing or expanding the program no later than two years following the establishment of the pilot program.
This bill is the first step to ensuring our classrooms have diverse teachers who look like the students they are teaching. The Senate Education Committee with the Senate Higher Education Committee expects to delve deeper into the subject during a joint hearing in this coming January.
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 3-0, and next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.