One teachers union in an influential blue state recently said that basic skills proficiency shouldn’t be required any more for someone to become a teacher in the state.
The New Jersey Education Association has been pressuring Democratic Governor Phil Murphy to sign a piece of legislation that would do away with those standards for its teachers.
In a story that was posted to its website on November 7, the union said that the requirement that teachers reach a proficiency level in basic skills just ends up getting in the way of filling open positions that school districts across the state have.
In the post, the NJEA wrote:
“New Jersey requires that candidates for teacher certification pass a basic skills test, the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading, Writing and Math, or show SAT, ACT or GRE scores in the top third percentile the year they were taken.
“When the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) adopted changes to the administrative code around teacher certification, it missed an opportunity to eliminate this requirement, which created an unnecessary barrier to entering the profession.”
Last year, the educative Teacher Performance Assessment was eliminated, which is what the union was referring to in its statement.
The bill that the NJEA wants Murphy to sign is called S1553.
While the powerful teachers union is pushing for current standards for its members to change, not everyone is on board with that idea. For instance, Parents Defending Education’s president, Nicki Neily, posted on the social media site X that reducing standards isn’t the best way that the state can recruit teachers.
As she wrote:
“You can eliminate some of the unnecessary red tape around becoming a teacher without eliminating a basic skills test. Teachers should be able to pass a basic skills test before they’re tasked with educating children in those core subjects.”
Neily makes a really good point. If teachers aren’t able to pass basics skills tests, how can they be expected to adequately lead students in those same subjects?
Still, back in September, Sean Spiller, the president of the NJEA, said that teachers in the state are struggling with having to deal with excessive paperwork and a lack of income.
As he said at the time:
“When you combine the frustration that the educators are feeling with the paperwork and the inundation with these other things that are not helpful for teaching, plus your loss in compensation both in direct salary and also the benefits, it’s just a bad combination.”
Fox News recently hosted Cassie Smedile, a former official with the Republican National Committee, on the “Outnumbered” program. She pushed back on those sentiments from Spiller, saying:
“We all know the national report card is in the tank. Failing grades across the board and now you’re going to say, ‘Oh, let’s just lower the barrier of entry for the people educating our kids’ – our most prized possessions?”
Others, such as Emily Compagno, the co-host of the Fox News show, pointed out that the basic skills aren’t serving as a barrier for teachers entering the profession. She correctly highlighted that the skills are “the fundamental qualifications for a position description,” just like they are for any other job position in the country.