New Jersey

3 Ways Governor Murphy’s Task Force Can Solve New Jersey’s Teacher Shortage

By Jared Taillefer

The teacher shortage is reaching a breaking point in New Jersey. The problems driving the shortages didn’t start last year, or even with COVID.

These issues have been around for years, and many educators have been trying to address them for just as long. And those issues have contributed to an alarming trend — a rapid decline in the number of New Jersey college students earning teaching credentials from more than 5,000 in 2011 to about 3,500 in 2020, according to New Jersey Policy Perspective research.

At this rate, there will not be enough new teachers available to meet future demand.

In response, Governor Phil Murphy appointed a task force to propose a solution. This task force submitted initial policy recommendations to the governor, some of which have already been included in his recent budget proposal for fiscal year 2024.

It’s a daunting task for anyone, and for such a complex problem. For those of us in schools and classrooms every day, we have seen first hand the policies and practices that have contributed to the problem of teacher shortages resulting in ratios student-teachers that make it difficult, if not impossible, for young academics to get the personalized attention they need to excel.

To begin to resolve this persistent issue, there are immediate actions the task force can consider taking:

Creating Easier Paths to Certification – The path to certification in New Jersey is difficult, often involving hours on the phone with long wait times and long waits for a response from the New Jersey Department of Education. Jersey. This process needs to be streamlined.

Although the NJ State Board of Education has adopted a program to ensure that teachers seeking certification do not have to meet a minimum GPA requirement, the number of staff that can be hired under this program is limited. . Once schools reach this cap, they are still unable to hire teachers who are slightly below the required GPA.

In addition to this, teachers must have up to 30 credits in the specific area for which they are applying. This means that qualified people with years of teaching experience sometimes have to go back to school and take courses in specific subjects. This requirement prevents people from moving into teaching later in life. These barriers deprive our students of the privilege of having a teaching staff with diverse backgrounds and lived experiences.

I commend Governor Murphy for signing into law a bill that will eliminate the requirement for prospective teachers to pass the teacher performance appraisal and for recently proposing student teacher stipends, an apprenticeship program teachers and the removal of teacher certification fees in the 2024 budget. This will help improve the certification process, remove a financial burden, and streamline the addition of future teachers.

We should also look to our neighbors in New York, who offer alternative paths and programs to certification, such as workshops and alternative courses.

Raising the voice of teachers — Teacher influence and autonomy play a key role in the teacher shortage we face. Research from the Economic Policy Institute found that teachers who leave the profession say they have no influence over education policy or even what happens in their classrooms.

State and community leaders must listen to their constituents and create avenues for teachers to respond to periodic surveys about new policies. Ensuring teachers have a say in policies that will impact what happens in their classrooms will increase their overall sense of ownership. And by improving the work climate, we improve where our students come to learn.

Equal Opportunity Despite Residency – In order to ensure that we have enough teachers and teachers of the highest quality, it may be time to seek out teachers who do not live in New Jersey. Currently, New Jersey has a strict residency requirement for in-state teachers. While we should always encourage teachers to be from the community they work with, in some cases we may need to expand this pool to meet student needs and in doing so, further strengthen our community.

If teachers can see the wonderful benefits and education system that New Jersey has to offer, it may encourage them to move here as well. This can also be accomplished by offering a bonus to teachers who live in the same city as their school.

The New Jersey Senate Education Committee previously approved a bill eliminating the residency requirement, and it’s time for the legislature to consider removing this unnecessary requirement at a time when we need so much support. teachers as possible.

The teacher shortage is reaching a critical mass in our state. The continued lack of quality teachers only exacerbates the impact on students of the COVID pandemic. Until we can provide real solutions to this problem, our students will continue to pay the price.

The task force has its work cut out for it, and thinking seriously about solutions to this problem can help ensure the best possible education and future for our children.

Jared Taillefer is the executive director of Great Oaks Legacy Charter School in Newark.

Here’s how to submit an editorial or letter to the editor. Mark Follow us on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and on Facebook at Opinion. Get the latest news straight to your inbox. Subscribe to newsletters.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *