Charter Teachers Typically Follow Traditional Routes to Certification

John Mooney | August 7, 2015 | Education
New staff at charters thus far follow tried-and-true path to fulfilling requirements, administration reports

Click to expand/close
A year ago, new regulations were approved that defined the minimum requirements for New Jersey charter schools teachers, a move meant to give the state-sanctioned schools further flexibility in hiring.

Yet in the year since, the vast majority of new hires at charter schools have followed the more established tracks to earn their certification, whether going the university route or what’s known as “alternate route” training, according to state officials.

The Christie administration on Wednesday presented the state Board of Education an update on the new certification requirements for charters, which provided a third track to a license. The rules include a minimum track similar in some ways to the state’s “alternate route,” which requires less course work and clinical training and offers more flexible hourly and credit demands.

Yet officials said fewer than one in 10 teachers hired by charter schools for the 2014-2015 school year held the charter-specific certification. For the most part, certifications were the same as those required in district schools.

Of 407 new hires in the past year in charter schools, officials said that only 22 held the charter-only license.

“A majority are still going the traditional pathways,” said assistant commissioner Evo Popoff, whose office oversees charter schools.

The different pathways have been a contentious topic since the new regulations were passed, as have the exemptions that allow charters exemptions from some of the state’s new teacher tenure and evaluation laws.

“I have never felt there was a rationale for downgrading what’s required for charters,” said Edith Fulton, a state board member and former president of the New Jersey Education Association. “You are more or less putting a noose around their neck and making them go back to school.”