On Dec. 11, AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera and eight PreK-12 leaders met virtually with Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, the acting commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Education.

Among the topics of discussion were New Jersey’s teacher shortage as well as efforts needed to retain the state’s existing educators. In her response to those issues, Allen-McMillan noted that millennials and Generation Zers are “not as committed to a long-term career with one entity,” using her 28-year-old daughter as an example.

“Our responsiveness I think calls upon us to understand that the younger people who are entering our profession are looking for an experience, not necessarily a career,” Allen-McMillan said. “And we have to ensure that we are working to entice them to want a career. … At the state level, we are looking to implement recent legislation as well as budgeted items that speak to teacher recruitment and retention.”

The hourlong Zoom meeting with Chiera and AFTNJ’s PreK-12 leaders was not viewed as a one-and-done. Chiera stated the case for having monthly meetings with the N.J. DOE office and commissioner, even after Allen-McMillan steps down from her post as acting commissioner in late January.

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