Senate Education Committee releases bill to address math and science teacher shortages

TRENTON – The Senate Education Committee unanimously released S1718 on Monday morning, a bill that would permanently establish a program in the Department of Education to address the state’s shortage of math and science teachers.

S1718, sponsored by Sen. Jim Whelan, (D-2), Atlantic City, directs the commissioner of education to establish a program to issue subject-area endorsements in math or in the sciences to certificated teaching staff members authorized to work in New Jersey public schools who do not have subject area endorsement in those fields.

The bill would establish a number of provisions in a pilot program on a permanent basis.

In an interview last week, Whelan gave credit to Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D – 27), of Maplewood, who was the sponsor of the 2009 “Traders to Teachers” Act, which was designed to help fast track the training of unemployed Wall Street traders and pharmaceutical employees to fill teacher shortages in the area of math and science.

“New Jersey is (now) ahead of the curve in making highly qualified physics, chemistry, and math teachers available to more students,” Jasey said on Monday morning.

Whelan’s bill would essentially make Jasey’s pilot program permanent.

“We’re taking people with science backgrounds and giving them a jump start on the educational side,” Whelan said.

The pilot program already led to 80 new physics teachers and 25 new chemistry teachers in the last two years, Whelan and Jasey said.  

Representatives from the New Jersey Education Association and Department of Education testified in favor of the bill on Monday morning.

Senate Education Committee releases bill to address math and science teacher shortages