New Jersey Wants to Make Teachers Out of Wall Street's Unemployed

The N.J. legislature approved a pilot program that offers an alternative way to earn certification.

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Unemployed Wall Street traders will soon have new career opportunities just across the Hudson River. The New Jersey state legislature this week unanimously approved a new program that will expedite the certification of new public school math and science teachers, the Newark Star-Ledger reports.

Because the program will initially focus on attracting former financial services employees whose jobs have been swallowed by the recession, supporters consider it a win-win for the economy and the public school system. New Jersey and many other states frequently face shortages of qualified teachers in math and science, areas of study where American students lag behind their international peers.

The state Department of Education will oversee the 18-month pilot program, which will operate in part out of Montclair State University's northern New Jersey campus. Montclair is an ideal spot to house the new program because it is just a 40-minute drive from the financial services district where the adults the program targets once worked.

Though many former Wall Street workers majored in economics or business and used math frequently on a day-to-day basis, few have the 30 college math credits required to participate in the alternate route certification program already in place in New Jersey. Ada Beth Cutler, dean of Montclair State's College of Education and Human Services, says the idea of the new program came to her in light of this stumbling block and the high number of qualified individuals out of work and interested in becoming teachers. She collaborated with Education Commissioner Lucille Davy on the program's structure and requirements.

"These programs will be rigorous," Davy says."It's not like a back door to teaching, but they will allow us not to lose people with great potential."

In lieu of the math credit hours, Cutler says Montclair State's program will require candidates to pass a math aptitude test, learn teaching techniques, and pass the content-knowledge tests required of all alternate route teaching candidates.

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