Legislation strongly supported by the 9th District Legislative Delegation to establish a pilot teacher preparation program at Richard Stockton College for veterans who served in the Armed Forces on or after September 11, 2001 was signed into law today by Acting Governor Kim Guadagno at a public signing ceremony in Atlantic City. Senator Christopher J. Connors was a prime sponsor of the legislation (S-1026/A-1294) along with Senator James Whelan and both Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove were cosponsors.
Under the law, the 36-month teacher program will lead to a baccalaureate degree and completion of the requirements necessary to apply to the State Board of Examiners for a certificate of eligibility with advanced standing, which would authorize the veteran to seek employment as a teacher in grades K through 8, and in certain secondary education fields. Educational expenses incurred by these eligible students will be covered under the “Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act,” also known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Connors, Rumpf and Gove made the following remarks following the legislation’s signing:
“Today’s bill signing marks the beginning of a tremendously promising initiative that will open career paths for our veterans while at the same time proactively working to address an anticipated shortage in public school teachers resulting from retirements over the next several years.
“Even more encouraging for our Delegation is that the pilot program will be undertaken at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey which is located in 9th Legislative District. Having spoken with both college representatives and students on multiple occasions, we know that Stockton is firmly committed to identifying working solutions to address pressing veterans’ issues, including enhancing employment opportunities for returning military personnel.
“This bipartisan supported initiative was quickly advanced through the Legislature largely in part of the widespread support displayed throughout the education community. There is a general consensus of our state’s public education system which stands to benefit tremendously from an increase in the number of veterans who will bring their values of dedication, professionalism and can-do attitude to the classroom everyday.”
Upon the conclusion of the Pilot Program, the Commissioner of Education is required to report to the Governor and to the Legislature on the number of veterans enrolled in the program, the number of veterans hired as teachers in public or nonpublic schools, and the advisability of the establishment of similar programs on a permanent basis.
Members of the 9th District Delegation serve on both the Senate and Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committees. As part of their continuing commitment to address veterans’ issues, Connors, Rumpf and Gove wrote the law enacted last year entitled the “Veteran-Owned Business Assistance Act,” which requires the state to identify strategies to expand the number of veteran-owned businesses that secure state contracts.