Gov. Murphy forms task force to address New Jersey’s teacher shortage problem

Districts all over the state have been dealing with this issue over the last few years.

News 12 Staff

Dec 12, 2022, 10:01 PM

Updated 578 days ago

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Gov. Phil Murphy has formed a task force of 23 educators to come up with solutions to solve New Jersey’s teacher shortage.
Districts all over the state have been dealing with this issue over the last few years. The superintendent of the Madison School District says the problem is front and center in town.
“It’s wearing very hard on our teachers. We’re very concerned about them,” says Superintendent Mark Schwarz.
Schwarz says that when teaching positions go unfilled, teachers have to fill in. He says positions that used to bring in hundreds of candidates now garner a few dozen. Schwarz says leave replacements for medical or for maternity are the toughest.
"And for the difficult-to-fill positions like chemistry and world language, sometimes we get no applicants,” Schwarz says.
Some school districts do not have the money to hire candidates.
"When you only have one applicant for a position, it's a sellers’ market. So we are in a position to say, ‘Well, we are either going to give this candidate what they're asking for to motivate them to come to Madison or we aren't going to have this candidate,’” Schwarz says.
The exodus of teachers was felt most with the pandemic. Other causes are burnout from overwork and low pay, according to officials.
The governor says the task force has until Jan. 31 to come up with solutions. They'll have to tackle hiring and retention.
Some districts are already solving the problem. Large districts such as Newark and Paterson have offered cash bonuses between $4,000 and $7,500 for new teacher hires. It is working well in Paterson. The district has hired 115 new teachers since September. If they hadn't brought on those employees, the vacancies would be 80% higher.
Schwarz says that another suggestion would be to make the teacher assessment program less difficult.
Many districts are also dealing with a shortage of substitutes. Some schools have had to increase pay for those part-time positions.


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