Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Troy Singleton, which would establish a pilot program to recruit men from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds to teach in public schools, was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.
“Research shows that increasing the number of educators of color in our classrooms is critical to a student’s academic success,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “We must address the widening teacher diversity gap we have here in our state and this legislation is only a start. I look forward to introducing additional legislation based on the concerns and recommendations brought forward in today’s joint hearing.”
Eligible participants would be required to meet the criteria for enrolling in the Alternate Route Teacher Preparation Program, including State Board of Education requirements for obtaining a certificate of eligibility.
“If we can help create more diversity within our teaching ranks while meeting the needs of our chronically challenged schools, then I think this will be a win for everyone,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “This is a great way to help an underrepresented portion of our population find a solid, stable career path while serving as positive role models for students in our challenged school districts.”
Under the bill, S-703, the Commissioner of the Department of Education would select six underperforming schools from throughout the state for participation in the pilot program. The bill directs the commissioner to establish policies and procedures for the recruitment and selection of eligible participants for the program, and for matching the selected participants to teaching opportunities at participating schools under the alternate route program.
The education commissioner would submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature with information on the implementation of the program and a recommendation on the advisability of continuing or expanding the program within two years of its establishment.
This bill is the first step to ensuring our classrooms have diverse teachers who look like the students they are teaching. The Senate Education Committee and the Higher Education Committee held a joint hearing today to delve deeper into the subject.
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 12-0.