• On Target June 2021
  • Executive View
  • Building a Diverse Educator Workforce Together


    Many individuals across the nation have noted the vast discrepancy in the backgrounds of the educator workforce when compared to the students they serve. A 2018 Pew Research report notes that only 20 percent of educators across the country come from minority backgrounds. True, both locally and nationally, initiatives to date to engage minority candidates in pursuing education as a career have met with little success. This is a growing concern as reports of fewer candidates overall enrolling in teacher education programs are increasing.

    Let us look at the statistics for New Jersey:

                                           Percentage                 Percentage of

                                           of Students               Certificated Staff

    White                     41.1%                            82.7%

    Black                      14.8%                             7.4%

    Hispanic                  30.7%                             7.5%

    Asian                      10.5%                             2.0%

    Children envision their future lives on what they see daily in their surroundings. Minority students can envision what is possible for them when the people who teach and support them in their schools look like them and have a similar background. Creating environments where students can see role models in their teachers and administrators and those adults can better understand their students can help improve student outcomes.

    NJASA has established a Leadership Diversity Committee with goals to address the inequitable representation seen in the educator workforce. Its charge is to:

    • develop a network among minorities in or aspiring to positions in educational leadership;

    • sponsor seminars which provide opportunities for skill building and competency in educational leadership;

    • build capacity of minorities in leadership positions;

    • encourage and support minority leaders; and

    • promote gender, race, and ethnic equity within educational systems.

    The committee members and NJASA leaders were pleased to support legislation introduced by Senate Education Chairperson, Teresa Ruiz, with Senate co-sponsors on the bills including Sandra Cunningham, Troy Singleton, and Shirley Turner. The proposed laws would take actionable steps to address equitable representation of teaching staff members and increase cultural awareness of underrepresented groups in the educator task force. Here is a summary of the package of eight bills:

    • Senate Bill 2825: The bill would establish a loan redemption program for certain bilingual education teachers. The Higher Education Student Assistance Authority would give priority under the program to teachers who are employed at a low-performing public school. 

    • Senate Bill 2826: The bill would require the State Board of Education to establish procedures for the issuance of a limited certificate of eligibility for certain teacher candidates who have not satisfied certain qualifications.  Following two effective or highly effective evaluations, the teacher would be eligible for a standard instructional certificate.

    • Senate Bill 2827: The bill would require teachers to biennially complete two hours of professional development related to cultural competency.

    • Senate Bill 2829: The bill would establish the “Male Teachers of Color Mentorship Pilot Program” and appropriate $50,000 to fund the program.

    • Senate Bill 2830: The bill would require educator preparation programs to report passing rates of students who complete certain tests and to disseminate information on test fee waiver programs.

    • Senate Bill 2833: The bill would establish a Teacher Apprenticeship Program, the purpose of which is to offer stipends and provide program participants with the education and field experience necessary to obtain a New Jersey certificate of eligibility with advanced standing (CEAS.

    • Senate Bill 2834: The bill would mandate training on culturally responsive teaching for all candidates for a teaching certification beginning with the 2021-2022 school year.

    • Senate Bill 2835: The bill would require the compilation of data and the issuance of an annual report on the teacher workforce, including the number of vacant positions, new positions, eliminated positions, and anticipated retirements.

    As I write this article, Commissioner Angelica-McMillan has just received the endorsement of the State Board of Education to accept a grant from The New Teacher Project which has selected New Jersey and two other states to work toward increasing the diversity of the teacher pipeline. NJASA members recognize that the teaching workforce must first expand in diversity as the entry point into supervisory and administrative positions. The leadership of NJASA realizes that much remains to be accomplished to have the New Jersey educator workforce reflect the composition of the state’s student body. These bills, NJ Department of Education initiatives, and NJASA advocacy, represent significant steps on the road to achieving that goal. Please join us in our advocacy by:

    • supporting passage of the Senate bills (contact your Assembly representative and the members of the Assembly Education Committee to solicit their support as the bills are considered in the Assembly);

    • engaging with the Leadership Diversity Committee in its work; and

    • learning more about the NJ DOE initiatives and its work with The New Teacher Project.

    I wish you well as you celebrate the accomplishments of this past school year as you, staff, and students overcame incredible challenges serving the students of your district.  I also hope that you will find time to enjoy rest and relaxation with those you love.

    Please stay well!



    Richard G. Bozza, Ed.D.

    NJASA Executive Director