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Successful Pilot Program Has Increased Number of Physics Teachers by Over 400%

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey called a hearing of the Joint Committee on the Public Schools on Thursday to track the progress that has been made on a law commonly known as the “Traders to Teachers Act” that she sponsored two years ago.

After listening to testimony, Jasey, who chaired the hearing, praised the results that have come out of this legislation, which was designed to help fast track the training of unemployed Wall Street traders and pharmaceutical employees to fill teacher shortages in the areas of math and science.

“This law has produced demonstrable results in filling some of our most pressing gaps in education,” said Jasey (D-Essex). “It truly is a win-win. This legislation has helped us meet critical education needs to better prepare our students to compete in the new global economy, while also helping those hit hard by the recession to find a productive means of employment.”

During the hearing presentations were given by Dr. Robert Goodman and Dr. Rosemary Knab from the NJ Center for Teaching and Learning (NJCTL), a program funded and run by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), which has worked in partnership with Kean University on the Progressive Science Initiative (PSI), the pilot program that was born out of Jasey’s legislation.

NJCTL also used the tools in the legislation to provide training to give other content teachers the expertise to teach physics. In the near future, the program will be replicated to train mathematics teachers to address this critical shortage as well.

“If it wasn’t for Assemblywoman Jasey’s leadership, we would not have been able to use the Trader to Teacher Act to ramp up the PSI to address the shortage of science teachers,” said Dr. Knab.

Knab also noted that the program has now been replicated in other states and around the world.

Dr. Susan Polirstok, Dean of Kean University’s College of Education, also spoke at the hearing and highlighted the fact that the PSI initiative has helped increase the creation of physics teachers in New Jersey by an astounding 438 percent in the last two years.

Polirstok noted that in the eight years prior to the creation of PSI, all of the colleges and universities in New Jersey produced a combined average of 8 physics teachers per year. However, in the two years since NJCTL and Kean University came together to work on PSI, the program has produced 70 physics teachers and 25 chemistry teachers. All told, the program will have impacted 20,000 New Jersey high school students by next year.