Governor Phil Murphy has signed an executive order establishing a new task force aimed at addressing the state’s school staff shortage, in the wake of a nationwide inquiry by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the United States Department of Education.
The new task force would fall under the governor’s office and include no more than 25 members, including the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education, school administrators, members of the New Jersey Education Association of School Administrators, and superintendents who hold a separate and separate sector of the diverse student population in the state, as stated by the to order.
“As one of the top-rated states in the nation for public K-12 education, New Jersey prides itself on the quality of education we provide to our children,” said Murphy. “Unfortunately, our state is no exception to the national teacher shortage that is currently straining our education system. With a critical need for learning recovery and acceleration, as well as mental health support for our students, teachers and other school staff are more important than ever.”
The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) has a 25 percent decrease in the number of teaching certificates issued compared to previous years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This task force will help us better understand how to address the ongoing shortages in our state to grow this critical workforce on behalf of New Jersey’s students,” as stated in the governor’s press release.
Most states across the country have experienced two consecutive years of enrollment declines, data from a registration tracker provided by American Enterprise, a conservative public policy think tank.
In the state of New Jersey, traditional public school enrollment fell by about 18,000 within two years, compared to a drop in enrollment of nearly 14,000 in September 2016 through 2018, as reported by New Jersey monitor.
Enrollment in New Jersey’s traditional public schools has fallen 2.62 percent in the past two years. In the previous two-year period, the decline was about 1.81 percent.
With more than 600 school districts in the state, the NVUs asked schools in December 2021 and February 2022 about the number of students attending full-time physical, part-time or full-time remote schooling.
Nearly all of the state’s largest urban school districts, including Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, Camden, New Brunswick and Trenton, announced that they distance learning for school year 2022-2023.
Earlier this year, the governor signed an order requiring the NJDOE to prepare a comprehensive report on the number of vacant, new, and eliminated teaching positions, the expected number of upcoming retirements, and the reasons teachers are leaving their jobs to help officials understand New Jersey’s current state of education field .
In addition, it would produce an annual report prepared by the commissioner to review trends in teacher retention statewide, county and district and include any recommendations the commissioner has to improve teacher retention, according to the order.
With a $973 million school budget approved by the Jersey City Public School district for the 2022-2023 school year, an increase of $159 million over last year’s budget, as reported by the Hudson reporterthe school district is expected to lose approximately $68.5 million K-12 state staff.
“The teacher and staff shortage is real, affecting students, including many of the most vulnerable, who are not getting the full report they need and deserve,” said Sean Spiller, president of the New Jersey Education Association. “The task force will bring together experts, including classroom-level practitioners who experience this challenge every day and are committed to overcoming it.”
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