The Alternate Route

Recently I’ve been told of a special alternate route for prospective educators in New Jersey seeking certification — for which I can qualify!

And you could too!

Good teachers are the greatest resources a community can have. Whether all tax paying citizens agree or not, a strong public school system is key to a strong community. To have a strong school system, you have to have a passionate & competent staff, which is majority educators.

Back to topic: in New Jersey (& maybe other states as well), certain people qualify to become certified teachers without having to go the traditional “Bachelor Degree” route.

The Alternate Route program is a non-traditional teacher preparation program designed for those individuals who HAVE NOT completed a formal teacher preparation program at an accredited college or university, but wish to obtain the necessary training to become a NJ certified teacher (source).

There are a minimum of 5 full steps to complete in order to obtain your teaching certificate through the NJ Alternate Route. Certain teaching levels or subject matters may require additional preparation. However, regardless of which kind of teacher you wants to become or even end up becoming the first step of the alternate route will be the most in-depth for you.

1. Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (CE)

Depending on teaching level and/or subject matter, you are required to obtain a CE. Some specialist (school psychologist) & other non-teaching positions (school nurse) do not require a CE as they require other, typically more significant, credentials.

Most teaching positions also require a Certificate of Eligibility in Advanced Standing (CEAS) and, after you’ve finished the program, all positions will require your Standard teaching certificate.

Note: a CE & CEAS are two different certificates with two separate checklists to complete in order to become certified. Additionally, requirements for each vary per desired position. It’s important to consult the state’s official website or speak with your program advisor / mentor if you have any questions, concerns or doubts.

2. Obtain CE, seek & accept employment

3. Entre the Provisional Teachers Progran (PTP)

This is the responsibility of the hiring district to set up for you.

A Provisional teaching certificate is then issued for a period of two years. The PTP is a school-based training and evaluation program provided during the first year of teaching in New Jersey (source).

4. Meet mentoring & formal instruction requirements

Which will, again, vary, based on teaching level and/or subject matter, but can range from 13 credits from an accredited New Jersey University to 200 clock hours of formal instruction.

5. Graduate!

Once you complete PTP you will obtain a Standard Teaching Certificate that you will be able to use to obtain a teaching position in the level / subject matter you applied.

This certificate is permanent, meaning you never have to recertify.

As someone with a B.A., that hasn’t done me much well since graduating in 2015, I appreciate this program.

Unfortunately for me, as a college student, I didn’t take much advice (not that I had much good advice coming at me). my major and minor are rather generic in the sense that I’m passionate about both of them but have no idea how to apply them to future employment. Or should I say “had.”

My degree of Writing Arts with a minor in Sociology, in my not so humble opinion, is the perfect base for the certificate I’m seeking: Pre-K to 3 & Teacher of Students with Disabilities.

For the summer, I work in an autism classroom at a school for students with disabilities as an instructional aide and sometimes a certified substitute.

My bachelor’s degree afforded me a substitute certificate through the state of New Jersey which has allowed me to explore education as a sub. It also granted me the full-time position I have during the year in which I am a special needs paraprofessional in an autism classroom.

Working in both classrooms, and as an uncertified daycare instructor, has led me to realize that I desperately want to work with kids. So I might as well get paid right for it.

Many people believe that teachers are underpaid and they should because they are.

However I need to lay out some facts for y’all that have recently come to light due to my unique credentials.

At my summer job as an instructional aide my hourly rate is $16.75. if I am to substitute as the certified teacher my hourly rate is $31. The teacher in our classroom has alluded to getting paid over $60 an hour. No matter your role, no matter your pay rate, you still get bit; you still get hit; you still have to help with toileting & work time. While teachers should make more than their aides, as they are responsible for putting together lesson plans and such, they should not be making 3x what their co-workers make. Similarly to how administrators should not be make 3x+ what their teachers make, regardless of their experience.

I don’t have the money, power, or time to fight this fight where it wouldn’t disadvantage me further than I already am — even as a straight, white person in America.

and so I guess I’ll play the game and take what I consider at this point the easy way out and follow the alternate route.

Fuck the yellow brick road. I’m taking the red one.