NJPSA testified in support of several legislative proposals May 13 before the Assembly Education Committee May 13 including one that would establish a new teacher leader endorsement A-3989 (Jasey). The Association also raised some funding and operational concerns with legislation A-3691 (Caputo) which seeks to require districts to install panic buttons and emergency lights in schools. In addition NJPSA supported legislation establishing a taskforce to examine implementation of full-day kindergarten across the State and several proposals to address school security around elections in schools.
Teacher Leader Endorsement
NJPSA voiced support for A-3989 (Jasey) which would authorizes a new teacher leader endorsement to the instructional certificate. The Association took an active role in massaging the bill into its current format which was noted by the Assemblywoman Jasey.
This bill as amended authorizes a teacher leader endorsement to a teacher’s instructional certificate. In order to be eligible for the teacher leader endorsement an applicant will be required to:
- complete a program of study equivalent to at a minimum 12 graduate credits or 180 clock hours; and
- complete five years of full-time teaching under a valid provisional or standard certificate or a combination thereof issued by the State Board of Examiners.
The legislation establishes an eleven member Teacher Leader Endorsement Advisory Board in the Department of Education which includes various education stakeholders including NJSPA who holds two seats on the body. The Advisory Board is tasked with making recommendations to the Department of Education and State Board of Education regarding the program of study for the teacher leader endorsement as well as any future adjustments to the program of study for the teacher leader endorsement. They are also tasked with making recommendations to the State board regarding non-supervisory roles and responsibilities for which a teacher leader endorsement should be required.
Under the provisions of the bill a State institution of higher education an educational organization or other non-profit entity or a combination thereof could apply to the Department of Education to offer a program of study leading to the issuance of the teacher leader endorsement.
NJPSA expressed support for the bill as a way to promote teacher leadership in New Jersey in new and exciting ways. The endorsement will provide enhanced skills training which will prepare a teacher to take on a multitude of leadership roles in our evolving school communities. Additionally the endorsement creates a new career path for top quality teachers who do not wish to leave the classroom to pursue an administrative role in a school.
Panic Buttons & Emergency Lights
The Association also weighed in on legislation A-3691 (Caputo) that would require school buildings to be equipped with emergency light and panic alarm linked to local law enforcement. Raising financial and operational concerns NJPSA pledged to work with the sponsor and urged him to instead develop a best practice documents around the use of such measures as based on local circumstances. NJPSA specifically raised logistical concerns in areas not serviced by local law enforcement.
Full Day Kindergarten Taskforce
In addition NJPSA supported legislation establishing a taskforce to examine issues associated with making full-day kindergarten a requirement in New Jersey. Assembly bill A-3972 (Wagner) would establish a 17-member taskforce of education stakeholders of which NJPSA is included to:
- review existing research studies and data concerning full-day kindergarten including studies that examine the long-term academic impact and the social and emotional impact of full-day kindergarten;
- examine implementation issues associated with full-day kindergarten including but not limited to staffing needs facility space and class size;
- determine funding needed for full-day kindergarten including sources of funding;
- explore curriculum comparisons between full-day kindergarten and half-day kindergarten;
- develop opinions and recommendations of parents and elementary school teachers regarding full-day kindergarten; and the feasibility of offering full-day kindergarten in school districts Statewide.
NJPSA testified on legislation earlier this year that would have mandated full-day kindergarten (NJPSA Testifies on Benefits of Full Day Kindergarten Questions Allowing Sectarian Schools to Provide Special Education Services at Assembly Ed Committee February 14 2013)
Elections & School Security
The Association was also successful in getting an amendment on one of two security related bills associated with using schools as polling locations for elections. Assembly bills A-1548 (Wisniewski) and A-1549 (Wisniewski) require schools to develop security plans for when a school is used as a polling place but also allows schools to seek reimbursement for costs associated with election security through County Boards of Elections.
In addition the Committee approved legislation A-3292 (Fuentes) which would require school districts to provide instruction on responsible use of social media for middle school students as part of the Core Curriculum Content Standards in Technology.
Legislation A-3986 (Benson) codifying current State Board of Education regulations which would limit who could serve as case managers for students with disabilities to members of child study teams and certain speech-language specialists was held. The Education Transformation Task Force in its final report dated September 5 2012 recommended that State Board of Education regulations should be amended to allow school districts to assign personnel other than child study team members and speech-language specialists to serve as case managers for students with disabilities. Under language recommended by the task force in addition to child study team members and speech-language specialists “teachers and any other licensed staff member with appropriate knowledge about special education requirements services and programs available for students with disabilities” would be permitted to serve as case managers. This was then incorporated into proposed code that has been moving through the State Board process. NJPSA testified in opposition to this proposal at the March 2013 State Board Meeting (NJPSA testimony) (State Board of Education Se
es Eval Code for First Time Receives Presentation from MET Author March 7 2013). The legislation was held in order to allow time to work with the Department around these changes to see if a regulatory solution exists.