TRENTON, N.J. – As the teachers’ shortage continues to worsen in New Jersey, Assemblymen Antwan McClellan and Erik Simonsen are instructing Gov. Phil Murphy to skip the field trips to the White House and instead return to his seat, grab a pen, and complete his assignment—sign into a law a bill that will help schools here.
The governor, representing the National Governors Association, attended a meeting at the White House last Wednesday with other national education and labor leaders to discuss the crisis in recruiting and retaining highly qualified K-12 educators and support staff.
McClellan and Simonsen pointed out, however, that both houses of the Legislature in June passed the bipartisan measure (S896) that eliminates the costly Educative Teacher Performance Assessment, known popularly as edTPA, a key first step in solving the problem at home.
“While Governor Murphy continues to try to build his national platform, there’s a perfectly good bill languishing on his desk that addresses the exact problem he went down to Washington, D.C. to fix,” McClellan (R-Cape May) said. “I would like to see him focus his attention on the bills that New Jersey legislators are writing and passing for New Jersey problems.”
After years of development helmed by Stanford University and administered by Pearson, this uniform national teacher assessment was released for use at the end of 2013. Teacher candidates, in addition to their own college or university studies and student teaching, must design numerous mini-lessons, a portfolio, and eventually record themselves teaching. Pearson then grades that against 12 rubrics outlined in the 60-page edTPA handbook.
More than two dozen states and Washington, D.C. quickly adopted edTPA. New Jersey required its teaching candidates pass the edTPA as of September 2017 to obtain their teaching certificates, but waived those requirements due to the education disruption caused by government lockdowns and untried distance learning.
Exact figures for teacher shortages are nearly impossible to come by. But teachers’ unions and other education stakeholders now blame the $600-plus edTPA for deterring aspiring teachers from joining the profession. They are pressing the governor to ditch it.
“Why do young people, or even retirees, get into teaching? Yes, you’ll always have the people who just want summers off. But most of them love children, and have a passion for the subject they want to teach,” Simonsen (R-Cape May) said. “As a school administrator and as a father, I want highly qualified, passionate teachers in my classrooms. We can demand excellence from teachers without redundant, expensive requirements. Governor Murphy needs to do right by our students and teachers, and sign this bill.”
The governor’s delay in signing the bill has impacted minority educators in South Jersey who participated in Rowan University’s Men of Color Hope Achievers program, specifically 10 would-be educators in the Bridgeton School District and three in Vineland.
“The governor signed legislation to create a program to help disadvantaged and minority men to get their teaching degrees and certifications and go teach in underperforming districts,” McClellan added. “His inaction in signing the bipartisan bill to end edTPA not only cost 13 young men in my district their jobs, but negatively impacted hundreds of students.”
Delaware, Georgia, and Washington State have recently dropped edTPA from the teacher licensure requirements. New York is following suit.