Turner-Ruiz Bill To Establish Pilot Program To Recruit More Math And Science Teachers Approved By Senate

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairwoman, Senator Shirley K. Turner, and Committee Vice Chair, Senator Teresa Ruiz, which would create an 18-month pilot program to recruit more math and science teachers in New Jersey was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 37-0.

“A quality education is a right, not a privilege, of every child in the State of New Jersey,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “As we prepare the youth of the State for the challenges of tomorrow, we need teachers well-versed in math and the sciences to educate, inspire and mold young minds. This bill would give New Jersey the authority to begin to address the shortage of math and science teachers in our State’s schools, and allow us to remain competitive for the high-paying jobs and research opportunities that depend on an educated workforce.”

The bill, S-2707, would establish a pilot program in the Department of Education to recruit and issue teaching certificates to individuals with math or science skills and work-related backgrounds in those areas. Under the bill, the State Board of Examiners would be required to issue a certificate of eligibility to an individual who holds a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university, passes the appropriate State test of subject matter knowledge, and meets other criteria set forth by the Commissioner of Education. The bill is intended to address a severe shortage of high school teachers in the math and science disciplines, and would allow teacher currently certified to use the pilot program to gain an endorsement in math or science.

“The foundations of economic success in a State can be traced to good teachers and inspired, motivated students,” said Senator Ruiz, D-Essex and Union. “In our current economic crisis, it’s more important than ever that we give future generations of New Jerseyans the tools and education to succeed. This bill would begin to address the shortage of teachers in vital subject areas, and would help prepare the Garden State for a changing and volatile national economy which will put a premium on expertise in science and math.”

The sponsors noted that in addition to meeting the educational needs of New Jersey’s students, increasing the number of math and science teachers in the State’s inner city schools may make New Jersey eligible for additional innovation funds through the federal economic stimulus package. They added that, at a time when federal support is crucial to continue to provide the services that New Jerseyans have come to depend on, every cent of stimulus money counts.

The bill is expected to be considered by the Assembly later today. If approved, it would go to the Governor to be signed into law.