On Feb. 22, representatives from the New Jersey School Boards Association testified about the ongoing teacher shortage and its impact on student achievement at a meeting of the Joint Committee of the Public Schools, a 14-member bipartisan statutory committee of the legislature made up of both senators and assemblypersons.
At the hearing, NJSBA’s Vincent DeLucia, educator-in-residence, and John Burns, senior legislative counsel, presented testimony outlining recent legislative efforts to alleviate the teacher shortage and pressed the Legislature to consider further changes to meet the needs of school districts.
DeLucia shared with the committee NJSBA’s concern that certain accountability measures may have actually become barriers to entry for aspiring teachers. With the advent of the TEACHNJ act in 2012, a more rigorous evaluation system was put in place. “When considering the TEACHNJ act’s significant impact on instructional quality and its impact on practice based on both legislation and research, revising the qualifications to be a successful teacher in New Jersey will not be detrimental to the students of our state and will provide additional qualified candidates to address the shortages that districts across the state are experiencing while supporting local control and furthering equity in our schools,” he said.
NJSBA’s testimony also pointed out the importance of labor-management collaboration in local districts as a necessary component of teacher retention. Research indicates “that in a collaborative school, after five years, there is no difference in teacher retention between high poverty, low achieving urban schools and schools that are high performing in affluent suburbs, which provides the important continuity of adults working with a school’s students that has a positive impact on all facets of learning,” NJSBA said in its testimony.
NJSBA urged the Joint Committee on the Public Schools “to consider legislation that increases recruitment and reduces or eliminates the barriers that prevent many candidates from entering the teaching profession.”