Seven Bills to Bolster the State’s Teacher Workforce Among Legislation Advanced by the Assembly Education Committee on Thursday
(TRENTON) – Assembly Education Committee Chair Pamela Lampitt on Thursday announced the introduction of a twelve-bill legislative package designed to alleviate the ongoing teacher shortage that has affected schools across the nation and in New Jersey by reducing barriers to entry for aspiring educators and offering critical support to existing teachers.
Chairwoman Lampitt was joined by members of New Jersey’s education community to formally announce the legislative package, which represents the culmination of over seven months of collaboration between teachers, administrators, parents, students, and legislators. Following the announcement, the Assembly Education Committee met to advance seven of the measures.
“All across New Jersey, school communities are grappling with the ongoing challenge of staffing their classrooms as the demand for qualified educators continues to dramatically outweigh the supply. Teachers are foundational to the success of our schools and our students. We must do everything within our power to place skilled educators in classrooms, ensuring students can learn and thrive in our best-in-the-nation public schools,” said Assemblywoman Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington), Chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “With this legislative package, we are addressing the complex issues currently plaguing the education profession and breaking down identifiable barriers that have long stood in the way of otherwise capable professionals entering, or remaining part of, New Jersey’s teacher workforce.”
Although the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this crisis, contributing factors behind the growing teacher shortage—such as stressful working conditions and the high cost of education and certification—have been taking a toll on the profession for many years.
The package takes aim at several root causes of the persisting crisis by seeking to fill vacancies in the field and retain existing teachers. Among the bills introduced are measures to make it more affordable and less time consuming to secure the degrees and certifications necessary to instruct students. Additional legislation aims to uplift those already working in the education field by establishing a pathway to certification for paraprofessionals and support professionals who want to become teachers.
Signaling support for the package, representatives and stakeholders from the education community issued the following statements:
“Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt has shown consistent leadership in addressing the needs of New Jersey school students. She again demonstrates that leadership today by addressing a critical issue affecting the quality of education for those students: the lack of qualified candidates for teaching and professional support positions,” said Dr. Richard Bozza, Executive Director of NJASA. “The bills introduced today are derived from recommendations made by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA) and a State Task Force created by Governor Murphy. These legislative proposals, if enacted, will greatly assist in identifying, recruiting, and supporting new educators as well as retaining current educators in their positions. NJASA supports these proposals and thanks Assemblywoman Lampitt for her initiative in addressing this critical need.”
“NJPSA applauds Assemblywoman Lampitt for the concrete, proactive legislative steps she is taking to address the educational staffing shortages facing our state,” said Karen Bingert, NJPSA Executive Director. “As school leaders charged with hiring our teachers, counselors and school staff, we commend the momentum that this legislative package brings to promote the education profession and ensure that practical, timely, and meaningful steps are taken to keep our schools fully staffed by the best teachers. Our students deserve nothing less, and the time for innovative, collaborative, out-of-the-box solutions is now.”
“The educator shortage crisis is at a breaking point and we must move urgently to get excellent teachers in every classroom in New Jersey. Removing unnecessary, costly barriers such as the Praxis Core requirement is critical to diversifying the educator workforce,” said Harry Lee, President and CEO of the NJ Public Charter Schools Association. “Public education stakeholders are united behind the need for immediate action and we thank Chairwoman Lampitt for her leadership on these bills to alleviate the teacher shortage.”
“New Jersey’s schools across the state are facing staffing challenges on all fronts, including teachers, support staff, school nurses and mental health professionals,” said Dr. Timothy Purnell, Executive Director of the New Jersey School Boards Association. “Not a day goes by that we don’t hear from our members about the difficulty they are having filling so many critical positions, which is having a detrimental impact on our students. We commend Assemblywoman Lampitt for prioritizing this critical issue and putting forward a thoughtful and creative package of bills along with her colleagues in the Assembly. We look forward to collaborating with her and other members of the Legislature on ways to help ease these shortages so that all students can succeed. They deserve nothing less than the best and we can no longer wait to take bold steps to address a problem that has reached crisis territory.”
“I commend Chairwoman Lampitt for her focus on the educator shortage and her leadership in pushing these bills forward,” said Sean M. Spiller, President of NJEA. “This is a complex problem that does not have a single solution. Each of these bills, in its own way, has the potential to help address the shortages. While more will be needed to fully meet the needs of New Jersey’s students, we are pleased to see these bills moving. We hope this helps create the momentum to do even more to address this crisis.”
“New Jersey, like many states in our nation, is facing a teacher shortage due to veteran teachers leaving the profession and a lack of students in the teacher pipeline,” said Donna M. Chiera, President of AFTNJ. “The incentives in the legislation being introduced by Assemblywoman Lampitt and her colleagues are important to colleges and universities as they visit high schools to recruit our next generation of teachers. AFTNJ looks forward to seeing Gov. Murphy sign these bills into law.”
The package includes the following seven bills, which were advanced by the Assembly Education Committee:
|Requires State Board of Education to authorize alternate route to expedite teacher certification of persons employed as paraprofessionals in school districts.|
|Prohibits limiting number of county college credits that may be applied towards educator preparation program and teacher certification requirements.|
|Establishes Teacher Certification Reimbursement Fund in DOE to reimburse certain teachers for costs associated with certification.|
|Removes obstacles to teacher certification for certain teachers.|
|Establishes New Jersey Student Educator Stipend Program.|
|Directs State Board of Education to authorize issuance of new endorsements in certain fields.|
|Permits teacher, and professional staff member who provides special services, who retired from TPAF to return to employment for up to two years without reenrollment in TPAF if employment commences during the 2023-2024 school year.|
The package also includes the following bills, which have been referred to the Assembly Education Committee:
|Expands eligibility for NJCLASS Teacher Loan Redemption Program.
|Provides deduction from gross income of $500 for full-time educators and paraprofessionals and $350 for part-time educators and paraprofessionals.
|Requires State Board of Education to reduce clinical practice requirements for certain teacher candidates.
|Establishes New Jersey Student Educator Tuition Remission Program.
|Prohibits Commissioner of Education from approving certain tests for teacher certification candidates with extended retake waiting periods.