Trenton - Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz advanced a package of bills aimed at increasing diversity in the state’s education workforce, preventing teacher shortages and cultivating inclusive learning environments.
“During our hearing on teacher diversity, we heard from countless educators and advocates on the challenges that prevent aspiring teachers of color from gaining their certification and current teachers of color from remaining in their positions. They brought forth numerous factors contributing to the jarring fact that roughly one in 163,000 students in the state never see a classroom leader of color during their time in school,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “This bill package represents a comprehensive approach to addressing those issues, improving our pathways to certification and fostering more inclusive professional environments to help ensure our educators reflect the diversity we see in our classrooms and our communities.
“The challenges New Jersey faces with its teacher workforce is not unique to our state, but the paths this package creates will put New Jersey at the forefront of expanding our teacher workforce. It will create new avenues for individuals to enter the profession, especially in high-need areas, and lead to individuals who are supported and excel in the classroom. The bill package will help us strategically plan for the classroom of the future and the type of professional that will lead it.”
“It's a simple fact - representation matters. We need diverse role models for Black and Brown children to look up to, and this includes teachers," said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “The importance of these kids seeing someone who looks like them not only in leadership positions but leading their classrooms cannot be overstated. Not only does it improve the quality of education for all students, but it opens the horizons for minority students and expands their perspective on what they can achieve.”
The bills are:
S.2825, sponsored by Senator Ruiz, would establish a loan redemption program for certain bilingual education teachers.
S.2826, sponsored by Senator Ruiz, would require the State Board of Education to establish procedures for the issuance of a limited certificate of eligibility for certain teacher candidates. Following two effective or highly effective evaluations, the teacher would be eligible for a standard instructional certificate.
S.2827, sponsored by Senator Ruiz, would require teachers to biennially complete two hours of professional development related to cultural competency. The instruction would include personal and interpersonal awareness and sensitivities, acts of microaggression in the classroom, and implicit bias.
S.2828, sponsored by Senator Ruiz, would require the Department of Education to develop a credential that would introduce teachers to culturally responsive teaching practices, characteristics, and methods.
S.2829, sponsored by Senator Ruiz and Senator Troy Singleton, would establish the “Male Teachers of Color Mentorship Pilot Program” and appropriate $50,000 to fund the program.
S.2830, sponsored by Senator Ruiz and Senator Singleton, would require educator preparation programs to report passing rates of students who complete certain tests and to disseminate information on test fee waiver programs. The bill would also permit the collection of a student fee for certain testing costs.
S.2833, sponsored by Senator Ruiz, would establish the teacher apprenticeship program.
S.2834, sponsored by Senator Ruiz, would mandate training on culturally responsive teaching for all candidates for a teaching certification.
S.2835, sponsored by Senator Ruiz, would require the compilation of data and the issuance of an annual report on the teacher workforce, including the number of vacant positions, new positions, eliminated positions, and anticipated retirements.