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New Jersey Assembly Democrats on Education

New Jersey’s education system routinely ranks among the best—if not the top—in the United States, and it serves as the bedrock of our society. Understanding the importance of education, the New Jersey Assembly Democrats have made it a priority to invest in schools and provide students with the resources they need to thrive both in the classroom and in life.

Over the past legislative session, the caucus has worked to address the most pressing issues facing our school communities. From keeping students safe to ensuring our schools have the faculty, staff, and funding needed to deliver a top-notch education, the Assembly Democrats have provided.

Addressing the Teacher Shortage

New Jersey, like the rest of the country, is facing a dire shortage of qualified teachers and educational support staff. 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 New Jersey Assembly Democrats have advanced legislation to address the shortage and place qualified educators in classrooms across the state. By breaking down barriers that prevent qualified educators from finding work and widening the pool of potential teachers with alternative teacher certificates, we are ensuring our schools can continue to deliver the high-quality education New Jersey parents and students have come to expect.

Bills Signed into Law
A677 Prohibits State Board of Education from requiring completion of performance-based assessment as condition of eligibility for certificate of eligibility with advanced standing or certificate of eligibility.
A5422 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.
A5590 Waives certain certification and credentialing fees for teachers for one year.

Bills Passed by Both Houses
A3681 Establishes New Jersey Educator Scholarship Program; appropriates $3 million.
A4525 Permits State Board of Education to authorize alternative teaching certificate.

Bills Passed by the Assembly
A2227 Provides gross income tax deduction to eligible educators and paraprofessionals for expense of classroom supplies.
A3945 Establishes “Male Teachers of Color Mentorship Pilot Program;” appropriates $50,000.
A5416 Requires State Board of Education to authorize alternate route to expedite teacher certification of persons employed as paraprofessionals in school districts.
A5418 Establishes Teacher Certification Reimbursement Fund in DOE to reimburse certain teachers for costs associated with certification.
A5419 Removes obstacles to teacher certification for certain teachers.
A5420 Establishes New Jersey Student Educator Stipend Program.
A5421 Directs State Board of Education to authorize issuance of new endorsements in certain fields.

Bills Passed by Committee
A1840 Establishes Grow Your Own Teacher Loan Redemption Program in Higher Education Student Assistance Authority.
A3227 Prohibits State Board of Education from limiting number of certain two-year college credits that may be applied towards meeting teacher certification requirements.
A3586 Directs DOE to establish advertising campaign to attract candidates to teaching and education support professions; appropriates $1 million.
A5417 Prohibits limiting number of county college credits that may be applied towards educator preparation program and teacher certification requirements.


Keeping Students Safe in Schools

Nothing is more important than the well-being of New Jersey’s children. New Jersey Assembly Democrats have taken action to safeguard our schools from harm. One item that categorically does not belong in the classroom is firearms. Gun violence has become commonplace in the United States, and both parents and students worry that their community will be the target of the next mass casualty.

Assembly Democrats have taken decisive action to ensure New Jersey has some of the most stringent gun safety laws in the country in addition to giving local law enforcement the tools they need to react quickly to any emerging threat. Our laws will prohibit guns from being carried in schools, childcare centers, parks, and school sporting events among additional sensitive areas.

This builds upon our work over the past decade to make sure our students are safe from active shooters. We have shepherded over 20 bills into law to help prevent these tragedies from occurring by increasing school safety measures and establishing critical school mental health supports.

Bills Signed into Law
A3835 Requires boards of education and chief administrators of nonpublic schools to submit critical incident mapping data to local law enforcement.
A4075 Requires public schools to develop threat assessment teams.

Bills Passed by Committee
A180 Directs Attorney General to establish program for anonymous reporting of potential threats to school safety.
A4977 Establishes School Safety and Security Task Force.

School Funding & Construction

Over the past two budget cycles, New Jersey Assembly Democrats have advocated for and delivered record funding for the state’s public school system. This year’s budget allocates $12.721 billion to ensure every child has access to an environment conducive to learning. The funding will help provide New Jersey students with one of the best K-12 education experiences available in the United States, while also keeping property taxes down for their parents.

Assembly Democrats have also strived for equity in the distribution of school aid, adjusting the statutory formula in 2018 to address both over-funded and under-funded school districts. The modification began a seven-year process of balancing out school aid to provide districts across the state with the resources necessary to address student needs.

Bills Signed into Law
A3668 Makes FY 2022 supplemental appropriation to provide State military impact aid to certain school districts.
A4722 Permits certain school districts to establish State military impact aid reserve account.
A5328 Provides additional State school aid to certain school districts; appropriates $103,023,579.
A5575 Establishes exemption from State school aid reductions for certain school districts.

Bills Passed by the Assembly
A5412 Establishes nonpublic school transportation program to provide funding to consortiums of nonpublic schools that will assume responsibility for mandated nonpublic school busing.

Bills Passed by Committee
A4496 Revises various provisions of law governing construction of school facilities projects and operations of New Jersey Schools Development Authority.
A5577 Requires five-year average of equalized property valuation be used in calculation of local share under State school funding formula.

Higher Education Access and Affordability

The cost of a college education has straddled millions of Americans with student loan debt. The New Jersey Assembly Democrats are committed to creating new pathways for our residents to secure a college education without taking on this financial burden. In this year’s budget, Assembly Democrats increased overall investments in higher education institutions and substantially expanded New Jersey’s financial aid programs.

This year, more families will be able to take advantage of successful programs such as the Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) and the Garden State Guarantee (GSG) Program. We also expanded the Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) Program into the summer semester so students can graduate faster with less debt. Together, these policies will put a college education in reach for more working- and middle-class New Jersey families.

Bills Signed into Law
A4224 Provides project grants under “Securing Our Children’s Future Fund” for career and technical education at county colleges; appropriates $19,993,837.
A4225 Provides project grants under “Securing Our Children’s Future Fund” for career and technical education at county vocational school districts; appropriates $36,960,028.
A4924 Authorizes Higher Education Student Assistance Authority to award summer tuition aid grants in summer of 2023; appropriates $1,000.

Bills Passed by the Assembly
A4613 Renames, extends eligibility, and makes various other changes to Primary Care Practitioner Loan Redemption Program; appropriates $10 million.
A4614 Modifies Nursing Faculty Loan Redemption Program.
A4615 Requires State to take steps to create additional graduate medical education program slots focused on behavioral health care.
A4693 Establishes “Scientific Conference Grant Program”; appropriates $250,000.