Bill to Create Pilot Program to Help Minority Men Take Advantage of New Jersey's Alternate Route Teacher Certification Program
(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Troy Singleton, Charles Mainor, Bonnie Watson Coleman and Shavonda E. Sumter to increase teaching opportunities for minority men in order to help provide high quality teachers in chronically challenged schools cleared by Senate Education Committee on Thursday.
"If implemented properly, this program could be a win-win to help meet two crucial goals - employing more minority men and providing quality teachers for disadvantaged schools," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington).
The bill (A-3195) would establish a pilot program in the Department of Education (DOE) to recruit and match eligible participants to teach in chronically failing schools under the State's alternate route teacher preparation program. Eligible participants would be male residents of New Jersey who are from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds, interested in pursuing a teaching career, and meet the eligibility criteria for enrolling in the alternate route program.
"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 failing districts, many of whom are minorities," said Singleton (D- Burlington).
"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 Mainor (D-Hudson).
"The alternate route teaching program has always been a viable path for those that decide to become teachers after college. We should be exposing as many people as possible to this route to help meet the needs of our struggling school systems," said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer, Hunterdon).
"New Jersey needs more programs that encourage diversity in our teaching programs," said Sumter (D- Bergen, Passaic). "This legislation would also be an opportunity for many of the state's unemployed residents to discover a new career path in teaching."
The commissioner of DOE would select six chronically failing schools from throughout the state for participation in the pilot program. Chronically failing schools are defined as public schools where the percentage of students scoring in the partially proficient range in both language arts and mathematics exceeds 40 percent in each of the prior two school years, or the percentage of students scoring in the partially proficient range in either language arts or mathematics exceeded 65 percent in each of the prior two school years.
The bill also would require the Commissioner, two years following the establishment of the pilot program, to submit a report to the Governor and Legislature, which contains information on the implementation of the program and the commissioner's recommendation on the advisability of continuing or expanding the program.
The measure was approved in the Assembly Monday, May 13 with a vote of 73-5. The bill now heads to the Senate Speaker for further consideration.