Bill’s goal: Recruit minority men as teachers for struggling schools

TRENTON – Assembly lawmakers are set to vote on newly introduced legislation Thursday that seeks to recruit minority men as teachers for struggling schools in the state.

The Assembly Women and Children Committee will take up A3195, which would establish a pilot program to recruit and match minority men to teach at chronically failing schools.

The program, which would be administered by the Department of Education, is twofold, says the bill sponsor Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, (D-6), Cherry Hill.

The bill would help suggest teaching as a career for minority men and further support them through the process by assisting them in finding a teaching position, said Lampitt, adding that the minority male presence would then be an advantage for minority students.

“Having that African American male presence is so profound,” she said, citing the disproportionate number of black male teachers compared to minority youth.

“Nationally, black men represent only one in every 50 teachers,” Lampitt said. “If we can influence African American males as they’re going off to their career to go into teaching … (they can then be placed) in urban districts where what they’re missing so much is the African American influence.”

Lampitt cited success of similar initiatives in school districts across the country, such as Baltimore schools, for example, as the reason for sponsoring the legislation.

According to the bill, chronically failing schools are described as schools where more than 65 percent of students score “partially proficient” on state grammar and math assessments.

New Jersey men who are from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds and meet the criteria for enrolling in the state’s alternate route teacher preparation program, as well as State Board of Education requirements, will be eligible for the two-year pilot program.

Lampitt said she has yet to hear anyone opposed to the proposal, adding she didn’t hear any opposition when she spoke with representatives from the New Jersey Education Association.

“Certainly we believe our schools are stronger when we have a strong, diverse teaching staff and work staff at the schools,” said NJEA spokesman Steve Baker.

“From what we see it still has the same requirements for entry teachers,” he said, adding, “To the extent that it helps those schools recruit high quality candidates who can make a positive difference, it’s a positive thing.”

Bill’s goal: Recruit minority men as teachers for struggling schools