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NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT EXTENDS PRE-K TEACHER CERTIFICATION DEADLINE

The NJ Supreme Court ordered an extension of the September 2004 deadline for certification of all Abbott preschool teachers. The deadline was established in the Abbott VI ruling (2000) to meet the Court's mandate for high quality, universal preschool in the Abbott districts.

In the Court filing, Ellen Frede, Special Assistant for Early Childhood Education, explained that the extension is necessary for a "small, finite group" of teachers in community provider programs who "have been working diligently towards attainment of certification, but are unable to meet the September, 2004 deadline..." Dr. Frede estimates that 1337 of the 1522 teachers in community provider programs are already certified, but another 125 have made progress and will need more time to complete their BA degree.

The specific plan ordered by the Court provides that:

  • Teachers who need less than 30 credits to complete their BA are eligible for an extension until September 2006 if they make steady progress toward obtaining their degree, remain in good academic standing, and provide DOE with letters of support from their employer and the Abbott district in which they work; and
  • Head Start teachers in programs contracting under Abbott after September 2000 are eligible for an extension if they present a plan to complete their BA degree within four years of the date when their program first contracted with an Abbott district to include the teacher’s classroom.

The Association for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) has issued an Action Alert providing more information on the extension criteria, and application process and forms. Teachers are encouraged to immediately contact their district’s preschool program supervisor, or Cynthia Rice at ACNJ.