On Tuesday, May 11, Gov. Murphy signed the following education-related measures into law. NJSBA supported both measures throughout the legislative process:

Pilot Program for SEL in Early Elementary Years S-2486/A-4264 establishes a five-year Clayton Model pilot program in the New Jersey Department of Education to provide a social-emotional learning program to elementary school students attending selected public schools. The pilot program would be based on the Clayton Model, which is a responsive, trauma-informed intervention program for student development that was created by the Clayton School District in Gloucester County. Under the bill, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education would select three counties to participate in the pilot program: a county in the northern area of the state; a county in the central area; and Gloucester County to represent the southern area. After each county is selected, the commissioner, in collaboration with the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs at Rutgers University-Camden, would select a maximum of 10 schools within each county to participate in the pilot program.

Additional information on the Clayton program can be found in an article published in the Spring 2021 edition of NJSBA’s School Leader magazine: https://www.njsba.org/news-publications/school-leader/spring-wowq-vol-51-no-5/providing-support-for-the-youngest-children.

“This program has been successful in helping students with special needs get the support they need to attain a quality education and gain the living skills that will help them for their entire lives,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “It is a means of advancing their academic performance and life skills. The controlled expansion of the program will make this terrific model available to students throughout the state.”

The law’s sponsors in the General Assembly, Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro and Assemblywomen Pam Lampitt and Valerie Vainieri Huttle released the following joint statement on Tuesday:

“The Clayton model was built on the idea that a student’s educational environment can influence his or her capacity to learn. By this principle, a supportive, safe, community-focused environment can be a vital tool in a student’s academic and social growth. It’s commonly said that it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to educate a child, and that’s exactly the kind of holistic, collaborative approach taken by the Clayton model. Parents, peers, caregivers and community members can all play a role in supporting the social and emotional development of children. As we plan our recovery from the socially-isolated reality of COVID-19, programs that help our children thrive academically, socially and personally will be all the more important.”

Easing Substitute Teacher Requirements  S-2832/A-5295 is designed to address substitute teacher shortages and increase the pool of substitute teachers. The measure allows college students who have accumulated at least 30 college credits (sophomores and beyond) and are at least 20 years old to serve as substitute teachers up until June 30, 2023. The current standard is 60 credits (juniors and beyond). Under the bill, NJDOE would provide a final report by no later than June 30, 2024 as to whether the 30-credit standard should be allowed to continue. Additionally, the bill increases the coverage provided by substitute teachers by extending the amount of time, from 20 to 40 days, that those individuals may teach in the same classroom during public health emergencies. During committee deliberations, the NJSBA was able to have language inserted clarifying school districts may establish additional criteria for substitute teachers within their district.

“Substitute teaching provides valuable experience to college students of all majors, offering an opportunity to serve their communities, learn more about our education system and earn money,” said Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, chair of the Senate Education Committee, upon the bill’s approval. “This new law will expand eligibility to more higher education students in the state, ensuring we have the staffing we need in our classrooms and increasing job opportunities for those working towards a degree.”