By: Gabrielle Mills, Follow South Jersey Intern
SOUTH JERSEY – New Jersey has been facing a teacher shortage with schools across the state lacking qualified individuals to teach students of every age. This has led to an over reliance on substitute teachers, as well as in some dire cases, combining classrooms.
Although the exact data for the shortage is unavailable, according to National Council on Teacher Quality President Heather Peske, “so far, there is no evidence of a mass exodus of teachers as a result of the pandemic. She added that most states do not publish comprehensive data on the teacher shortage, which needs to change.”
Districts across the country have implemented incentive programs, taking steps to rectify the issue via loan forgiveness and sign-on bonuses. At the heart of the issue is the strain that the pandemic puts on the profession, as well as the static, and often insufficient pay rate.
Local officials as well as Governor Phil Murphy are taking steps in order to combat the shortage. The Governor announced recently the “appointments of 23 members to the Task Force on Public School Staff Shortages in New Jersey.”
According to the governor’s office, “The task force, established by Executive Order No. 309 will also explore best practices and innovative ways to recruit and retain school staff. The task force will also identify best practices and resources to increase the pipeline of teachers and educational support candidates.”
Members of the task force include professionals from different disciplines in the education field. The task force “will be chaired by Chief Policy Advisor to the Governor Dennis Zeveloff. In addition to Christopher Huber, the 23 members appointed today represent school administrators, school board representatives, an assistant principal, a paraprofessional, and teachers, as well as representatives from various education-related associations and members appointed upon the recommendation of legislative leaders.”
“The Task Force on Public School Staff Shortages in New Jersey will have until January 31, 2023 to provide their initial recommendations to the Governor,” the governor’s office stated.
In addition to helping solve the teacher shortage problem, Governor Murphy signed a bill that would get rid of state-mandated Education Teacher Performance Assessment, or edTPA, test for people who want to teach in New Jersey.
The law eliminates the requirement for prospective teachers to take the test before they can become eligible for a permanent standard teaching certificate.
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