Trenton – Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz introduced a package of bills aimed at increasing diversity in the state’s education workforce, preventing teacher shortages and cultivating inclusive learning environments.
“During last year’s teacher diversity hearing we heard from countless educators and advocates on the challenges that prevent aspiring teachers of color from gaining their certification. They brought forth numerous factors contributing to the jarring fact that roughly one in 163,000 students in the state never see a classroom leader of color during their time in school,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “This bill package represents a comprehensive approach to addressing those issues and improving our alternative pathways to help ensure our educators reflect the diversity we see in our classrooms and our communities.”
The bills are:
- 2825 would establish a loan redemption program for certain bilingual education teachers.
- 2826 would require the State Board of Education to establish procedures for the issuance of a limited certificate of eligibility for certain teacher candidates. Following two effective or highly effective evaluations, the teacher would be eligible for a standard instructional certificate.
- 2827 would require teachers to biennially complete two hours of professional development related to cultural competency. The instruction would include personal and interpersonal awareness and sensitivities, acts of microaggression in the classroom, and implicit bias.
- 2828 would require the Department of Education to develop a credential that would introduce teachers to culturally responsive teaching practices, characteristics, and methods.
- 2829 would establish the “Male Teachers of Color Mentorship Pilot Program” and appropriate $50,000 to fund the program.
- 2830 would require educator preparation programs to report passing rates of students who complete certain tests and to disseminate information on test fee waiver programs. The bill would also permit the collection of a student fee for certain testing costs.
- 2831 would grant reciprocity to teachers with certain out of state certificates.
- 2832 would allow students enrolled in an institution of higher education who have completed 30 semester-hour credits to serve as a substitute teacher.
- 2833 would establish the teacher apprenticeship program.
- 2834 would mandate training on culturally responsive teaching for all candidates for a teaching certification.
- 2835 would require the compilation of data and the issuance of an annual report on the teacher workforce, including the number of vacant positions, new positions, eliminated positions, and anticipated retirements.
- 2793 would require public institutions of higher education to take various actions to improve campus diversity. The bill also directs the Secretary of Higher Education to develop guidance regarding diversity in the faculty search and selection process.