This is a guest editorial by a staff member of the New Jersey Department of Education who wishes to remain anonymous.
It has been revealed that the New Jersey Department of Education’s Recruitment, Preparation and Induction unit has approved a teacher-training program for the New Jersey Center of Teaching and Learning (NJCTL). NJCTL is a skill-improvement hub, reputed to assist those seeking mastery of such subjects as physics, chemistry and biology.
On the surface, NJCTL’s approval may sound like a logical turn, but there is a catch: NJCTL lacks regional accreditation.
According to general website information, NJCTL’s regional accreditation is pending. In other words, the institution is currently seeking what it would need to achieve program approval. There is no guarantee that the regional approval will be awarded, considering NJCTL’s unorthodox, non-classroom-based structure. Even if it gains the required accreditation, its status will only cover individuals from that point on, not those prior to it. This means that those who have been certified already should not have been. Their certificates must be rescinded.
Any institution that lacks regional accreditation should not be considered for certification submissions under any circumstances, even if that institution partners with a regionally accredited college to take courses in transfer. The same applies to substitute teachers. Those who have not attended regionally accredited schools cannot receive certification. Why then has NJCTL been given a pass on this matter? Was its approval granted in error?
Despite NJCTL’s flawed status, the DOE’s Recruitment, Preparation and Induction unit has made arrangements with NJCTL to team with regionally accredited institutions to justify its approval. Partnerships have since been formed as a result, though not with NJ colleges as one might expect, but rather with the University of Colorado and, most recently, Adams State University. Those who enroll in NCTL are encouraged to complete a series of online pedagogy courses through these Colorado institutions, but no coursework in the actual subject areas is offered to students. These individuals take courses to learn how to teach subject areas they have not mastered. Most have not taken even a single science course in their academic careers. This is an alarming matter, since physics, in particular, is now a requirement for high school graduation, and only the most qualified teachers must be recruited to ensure the sharing of the subject’s comprehensive knowledge.
Panic is now spreading among those students who have learned the truth about NJCTL’s status. They have been contacting the State and their legislative offices to express their outrage, especially since other states will not accept the NJ “programs” they have completed due to NJCTL’s categorization.
Strangely enough, the Recruitment, Preparation and Induction unit of the DOE continues to encourage NJCTL to submit applications on behalf of students. Those who do not know any better continue to matriculate at NJCTL, unaware of its illegitimacy.
Someone must stop this practice. Lawsuits will no doubt occur as a result. Acting NJDOE Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan and those who are part of her hierarchy must investigate this predicament and end it, while holding those who have promoted it accountable.