New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf is right to raise the college grade-point-average requirement for new teachers from the current minimum of 2.75 to 3.0. A higher GPA requirement not only would promote teachers with strong academic records, but also deter less-viable candidates who may find it difficult to meet student needs in this much-demanding profession.
If the goal of these policies, however, is to attract better candidates into the teaching labor market, concomitant reform of teacher pay will go further than a mere GPA requirement. As an urban, non-unionized, charter school science teacher, I teach a high-need subject in a low-income setting. But I am paid considerably less and enjoy less job security than either my urban or suburban colleagues. Not surprisingly, the research shows that nearly half of new math and science teachers leave urban teaching within the first five years citing poor pay as one of the top two factors.
Reforming the teaching supply pool will require the state to analyze many factors - teacher education programs, teacher pay, unions, evaluations, and more. Piecemeal reforms will not only distort the teacher labor market, but do little to improve quality.
Ethan Ake, Philadelphia, firstname.lastname@example.org