Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senate Education Chair Senator M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Troy Singleton, which would establish a pilot program to recruit men from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds to teach in public schools, was signed into law today.
“We must address the widening teacher diversity gap in our state and this legislation is just the beginning. Research indicates that increasing the number of educators of color in our classrooms can have a positive impact on the academic success of all students,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “I will continue to work on legislation to make careers in education more accessible to people of color so more of the children in our state can benefit from learning in diverse settings.”
The purpose of the pilot program is to increase access for disadvantaged or minority men to teaching opportunities and to provide needed high-quality teachers in underperforming schools.
Eligible participants will be required to meet the criteria for enrolling in the Alternate Route Teacher Preparation Program, including State Board of Education requirements for obtaining a certificate of eligibility.
“If we can help create more diversity within our teaching ranks while meeting the needs of our chronically challenged schools, then I think this will be a win for everyone,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “This is a great way to help an underrepresented portion of our population find a solid, stable career path while serving as positive role models for students in our challenged school districts.”
Under the law the Commissioner of the Department of Education would select six underperforming schools from throughout the state for participation in the pilot program. The law directs 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 will 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 within two years of its establishment.
The law is the first step to ensuring our classrooms have diverse teachers who look like the students they are teaching.