NEWARK, NJ - Newark Public Schools Superintendent Roger Leon is guaranteeing full-time teaching jobs to East Side High School students who begin their journey to become teachers at a new academy that prepares students to become educators. 

The promise would apply to students who complete the new Teacher Education Academy at East Side High School and go onto to graduate with a teaching degree from Montclair State University. Students who enroll in and complete the academy will not only earn a high school diploma, but also a substitute teaching certificate and college credit.

"When they graduate from college, if they have all of the conditions necessary to accept the job, they automatically do not need to look for any other job in any other school district,” Leon said today to an auditorium filled with students at East Side High School students.

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“You do everything that you're supposed to, this school district (will) hand you $50,000,” he later added.

The new academy is a collaboration between the district, Montclair State University and the American Federation of Teachers, the second largest teachers union in the United States. 

MORE: Newark's Solution to Low College Enrollment: Start With 8th Graders

The new teaching academy is expected to open in 2020 and is part of Leon’s plan to implement academies at comprehensive high schools across the district. Each comprehensive high school will be matched with a magnet high school, a higher education partner and professional organization that specializes in the academy's area of study.

Other academies could include tracks for dentistry or pre-engineering.

Students at comprehensive high schools in Newark were less likely to enroll in college than magnet high school students, according to a 2018 Rutgers University study. The academies are just one of several new policies implemented by Leon, who took the helm of the district last summer, to address low college success rates.

Montclair State University will be the higher education partner for the teachers academy at East Side High School, while the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) will be the professional organization. The two entities will help design a curriculum for the academy.

University High School will be paired with East Side High School too, Leon said.

Montclair State University will also provide internships for students and adjunct professors to teach at the academy.

“If we work together -- and it's the collaboration that really counts -- and we really work hard, and we are rigorous and intentional about what we do,” said Montclair State University President Dr. Susan Cole, “we will not just change our lives -- all of your lives -- we will change the city and we will change the world. That's the truth.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten said the program will help grow the teacher pipeline and diversify the field’s workforce.

“When we diversify our teaching force, the people feel that the teachers they have know them, understand them, are part of the community,” Weingarten said today at East Side High School. “That is really, really important. we must be part of your communities, but that starts with understanding all our communities and deeply respecting all of our communities, which means we need to have a whole lot more teachers who are men and a whole lot more teachers who are of color.

“It starts here and this starts now,” she added.

Studies have shown that having teachers of color in classrooms with low-income children of color can have a significant impact. One study found that having at least one black teacher in third through fifth grades significantly increased a low income black black boy’s chances of graduating from high school.

Uncommon Schools, a charter network that operations North Star Academy in Newark, has for the last several years undertaken efforts to recruit more teachers of color. The network recruits students of color in their junior year for a summer teaching fellowship, providing them with classroom experience and coaching. Many are offered jobs in the network after graduation.

Uncommon School's efforts have increased the number of minority teachers at Uncommon Schools from 35 percent in 2013-14 to 52 percent this school year.

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