TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today signed S703 into law, establishing a pilot program within the Department of Education to recruit disadvantaged or minority men to teach in certain underperforming schools under an alternate route program.
“Diversity is one of our greatest strengths as a state and reflecting that diversity in the teaching staff of our schools will go a long way in ensuring success for our students,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Many of our students lack role models that look like them and are from their communities. This program will create new pathways for aspiring teachers that come from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds, while providing positive male role models for many of our underserved youth.”
S703 establishes a pilot program in the Department of Education, in which the Commissioner of Education will recruit eligible participants and match them to teaching opportunities for which they may apply in underperforming schools under the State’s alternate route teacher preparation program. Under the bill, the Commissioner will select six underperforming schools from throughout the state for participation in the pilot program.
“Research tells us that students of color taught by at least one teacher of color in grades K-5 are more likely to see improved test scores and higher graduation rates,” said New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet. “Moreover, all students across the spectrum benefit from a diverse teacher workforce. Teachers of color foster positive perceptions among all children, and that helps prepare students to succeed in a diverse society.”
The Legislation was sponsored by Senators M. Teresa Ruiz and Troy Singleton; and Assemblymembers Pamela Lampitt, Mila Jasey, and Angela McKnight.
“On any given day over 160,000 students in the state do not encounter a single teacher of color. Today, New Jersey took the first step in addressing our teacher diversity gap but there is still much work to be done,” said Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz. “There are great benefits to having all the state’s work forces reflect the rich diversity of New Jersey. Our educators should not be an exception. Together we can create pathways that make careers in education more accessible to underrepresented communities and set a new course for the future of education in our state.”
“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. “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.”
“The presence of strong role models in a school setting can greatly increase a child’s chance at succeeding in life,” said Assemblywoman Lampitt. “With proper implementation, this pilot program would help us meet two crucial goals – recruiting highly qualified, diverse teachers and increasing access to teaching opportunities.”
“More diverse representation is sorely needed in all schools,” said Assemblywoman Jasey. “Every student deserves to see and be inspired by a teacher who looks like them, who they can relate to. We can help create more diversity within our teaching ranks and better meet the needs of our schools.”
“We must encourage diversity amongst education professionals,” said Assemblywoman McKnight. “A pilot program will help bridge the gap that exists between in our teaching population and the communities they serve, especially in the state’s more disadvantaged district where many of the students are African American.”
“As a former school board member in Paterson and a current Superintendent of Schools in Teaneck, I know all too well the need for more males of color in the classroom,” said Dr. Christopher Irving, Superintendent of Teaneck Schools. “As a black man, I commend the Governor’s efforts to diversify the teaching pool in our State.”
"Children in New Jersey deserve the best teachers, which includes educators that share their identity, cultural background and world view," said Tia Morris, Executive Director of Teach For America NJ. "Research confirms that educators who share aspects of their students’ identities can have a profound effect on academic achievement. As Teach For America works to recruit more educators from historically underrepresented communities, we commend the recent legislative action that strengthens effective alternative teacher pathways and aims to build a more diverse, inclusive education workforce."