In early December 2022, Governor Murphy appointed 23 members to the Task Force for Public School Staffing Shortages in New Jersey, including NJPSA Executive Director Karen Bingert. As outlined in Executive Order 309, the task force was charged with identifying recommendations that could mitigate the current staffing shortages occurring in our schools and the shortages that are expected to worsen in the coming years. With a very short timeline of just seven weeks that ran through the holiday season, the task force industriously worked to create the first round of recommendations for the Governor’s consideration.
The Initial Recommendations from Members of the Task Force on Public School Staffing Shortages in New Jersey report was posted to the New Jersey Department of Education website on Monday, February 27, 2023, and reflects the many possible avenues for consideration as the task force itself continues to hone in on the steps that will ensure that our schools are fully staffed by excellent educators. NJPSA Executive Director Karen Bingert strongly advocated for several issues to strengthen the teacher pipeline including paid student teaching and the waiver of certification fees to eliminate entry barriers to the profession. These and other recommendations have been developed and recommended by the NJPSA Staffing and Certification Committee and Legislative Committee that have met over the past year.
In Tuesday’s budget address, Governor Murphy incorporated recommendations from the task force in the FY2024 state budget, including $15 million in stipends to student teachers and a certification fee waiver, as well as funding for culture and climate grants, training opportunities for paraprofessionals, expansion of teacher leadership programs, and a public media campaign to support NJ’s educators. The work is not done, however, and the task force will continue meeting to address the staffing crisis facing our schools. NJPSA has also been advocating for seizing the opportunity provided while N.J.A.C. 6A:9, 9a, 9b, and 9c are open for revision to remove barriers to certification that cost nothing financially, but that broaden access to certification for those who are eager to teach NJ’s students without sacrificing the quality of the educators in our classrooms.
NJPSA will keep you advised of future developments as the budget, legislative and regulatory processes continue.