Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Nov. 2 that amends a grant program for STEM teachers that was established in 2019.
In a statement, Murphy’s office touted Senate Bill 2563 as a way to incentivize public school STEM teachers to participate in the initiative while ensuring that nonpublic school students have access to STEM education, and the future pathways and opportunities it opens up for them.
The move comes amid a nationwide teacher shortage.
“As we continue to support our students through the most formidable challenges of the 21st century, it is imperative that we continue to ensure that all students have access to a world-class STEM education,” said Murphy. “The expansion of the program I signed into law three years ago will provide current and prospective public school educators with greater flexibility and compensation to provide STEM education to nonpublic school students.”
The legislation – whose sponsors include state Sens. Vin Gopal, D-11th District, and Shirley Turner, D-15th District, and Assemblymembers Gary Schaer, D-36th District, and Sterley Stanley, D-18th District – expands the number of educators who are eligible to provide STEM instruction at nonpublic schools, in addition to their public school duties.
It also broadens the hours during which public school teachers can teach at nonpublic schools, in addition to increasing teacher compensation for participating in the program.
“Given the difficult big picture environmental, technological, and biological questions facing our world, the need for high-quality and diversified STEM classes, curriculum and instruction for our young people is more vital than ever,” said Gopal, chair of the Senate Education Committee. “By moving to further enhance the STEM educator grant program, we can attract more committed, well-qualified teachers to join the ranks, and feed the minds of hungry students who wish to pursue meaningful and worthwhile careers across the STEM spectrum.”
“Generous state funded grants will create needed opportunities for our highly qualified public school teachers in nonpublic schools that cannot provide advanced STEM programming,” said Schaer. “This legislation represents an essential component of New Jersey’s historic investments in emerging technologies and groundbreaking innovations.”
“Educators throughout New Jersey share a common goal of wanting to provide students with greater learning opportunities in school and greater chances for success after graduation,” said Angelica Allen-McMillan, acting commissioner of education. “This legislation helps us move toward that goal by building upon incentives designed to introduce high-quality STEM coursework to more New Jersey students.”