The state’s teacher workforce doesn’t reflect the diversity of its classrooms.
That’s the main finding of a new report by progressive think-tank New Jersey Policy Perspective.
Two-thirds of New Jersey’s teachers are white and female, but just 22% of students are.
More than half of all students in the state are nonwhite, while only 16% of their teachers are minorities.
The report also finds the state’s teachers are paid significantly less than similarly educated workers – and that teacher pensions and health care benefits don’t make up the gap.
Teachers with master’s degrees make 17% less, on average, than other workers with a master’s degree in the state.
Report author Mark Weber, who is also a public schoolteacher, recommends the state offer competitive pay to highly-qualified teacher candidates as a way to bring more workers of color into teaching.
“This is a profession where it’s enormously satisfying, enormously gratifying, but you also need to be able to take care of your family if you choose to do this,” he said. “We have to step back and look at our policies to make sure we’re providing the resources necessary to incentivize people to come into the profession.”