New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed new legislation that will incentivize public school STEM teachers to participate in an existing grant program, as well as ensure that nonpublic school students have access to STEM education.

Signed amid a nationwide teacher shortage, the legislation amends an existing New Jersey Department of Education grant program for STEM teachers established by the governor in 2019. The bill expands the number of educators who are eligible to provide STEM instruction at nonpublic schools in addition to their public school duties. Additionally, the governor’s office notes that the law also broadens the hours at which public school teachers can teach at nonpublic schools, in addition to increasing teacher compensation for participating in the program.

“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 Gov. Murphy. “Since the beginning of my Administration, I have remained unwavering in my commitment not just to New Jersey children, but to the teachers responsible for our students’ instruction, safety, and wellbeing. 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 was sponsored by four state elected officials, Sens. Vin Gopal and Shirley K. Turner, and Assemblymembers Gary S. Schaer and Sterley S. Stanley.

“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 Sen. Gopal, chair of the New Jersey 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.”

Assemblyman Schaer also praised the bill, saying“The improved STEM Educator Grant Program is a crucial step in ensuring educational equity for every student in New Jersey, regardless of what school they attend. Generous State-funded grants will create needed opportunities for our highly qualified public school teachers in nonpublic schools that cannot provide advanced STEM programming. This legislation represents an essential component of New Jersey’s historic investments in emerging technologies and groundbreaking innovations.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs