Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get support from more senior teachers?

First, be sincere. Are you really looking for their support and suggestions or are you trying to "wow" them with your ideas and enthusiasm? Second, don't assume because their style may be more subdued than yours that there isn't real learning going on in their classrooms. They may not wear their dedication on their sleeve, but that doesn't mean they don't share your commitment to teaching. Third, if you want support, give support. If you want constructive criticism, make sure your comments are constructive. Whether the teacher is a veteran or fairly new to the profession, the greatest threat to a nongrowing teacher is a teacher who is growing. At work as in life, do not listen to cynical, nongrowing people. Move on. Find yourself a mentor who will inspire you and who will serve as a role model for your continued growth. It's a good idea to look for support and input from more experienced teachers. When teachers learn together, test ideas together, and solve problems together, everyone in the school community benefits.

Are my dues dollars spent on political campaigns? What is PAC?

NJEA PAC is the New Jersey Education Association Political Action Committee. It is a legal mechanism through which our Association provides financial support to political candidates for state office. PAC is power! NJEA PAC provides us with the power to shape our profession, protect our benefits, and promote public education. All NJEA PAC funds are raised from the voluntary contributions of our members. NJEA cannot use dues money to support PAC. Therefore, it is up to you to turn on the power!

What is tenure?

Teacher tenure is an employment security device by which the teacher attains permanent status and protection against dismissal except for just cause. Tenure can be earned in four years. After a first year, which includes required mentoring, a teacher must be rated effective in two of the following three years to be considered for tenure. For more information see Tenure page.

Where can I get information about the school employee retirement system?

Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund - the TPAF was established to provide retirement benefits to all "full-time" certificated employees employed by local school districts or the State Department of Education. Membership is mandatory for these employees. Vesting occurs after ten years of service credit. Members are generally eligible for retirement at age 60, 62 or 65 or after 25 or 30 years of service credit depending upon enrollment date in the TPAF.

Public Employees' Retirement System - the PERS was established to provide retirement benefits to most employees of the State, local governments, certain employees (ESP) of local school districts, vocational schools, accredited evening schools, county colleges or public agencies who are not required by law to become members of another State-administered retirement system. Membership is mandatory for most employees. Vesting occurs after 10 years of service credit. Members are generally eligible to retire at age 60, 62 or 65 or after 25 or 30 years of service credit depending upon enrollment date in the PERS.

The TPAF and PERS are managed by the Division of Pensions and Benefits. For more information, contact the Division’s client services office at 609-292-7524 or visit their internet site at: www.state.nj.us/treasury/pensions

Part-time employees not eligible for membership in either TPAF or PERS are eligible for membership in the Defined Contribution Retirement Plan (DCRP).  Membership is mandatory.  The DCRP provides a tax-sheltered, defined contribution retirement benefit as well as life and disability insurance.  When enrolled in the DCRP, members contribute 5.5 percent of salary to a tax-deferred account.  Member contributions are matched by a 3 percent employer contribution.   Prudential Financial jointly administers the DCRP investments with the Division of Pensions and Benefits.  For more information, contact the Division’s client services office at 609-292-7524 or visit their internet site at: www.state.nj.us/treasury/pensions

What is the Alternate Benefit Program? (ABP)

The Alternate Benefit Program (ABP) is the pension plan adopted by the State of New Jersey for faculty and certain administrators of higher education. Participants in the ABP provide for their future retirement benefits through the purchase of fixed or variable annuities underwritten by private financial companies. Employees contribute, through payroll deductions, a flat five percent of their base salary and the State contributes an eight percent "match". Vesting occurs after one year of service credit. The ABP provides retirement benefits, life insurance and disability coverage. For more information contact the Division of Pensions and Benefits at 609-292-7524 or go to www.state.nj.us/treasury/pensions/abp1.htm

Can I purchase additional service credit?

Public employees enrolled in PERS or TPAF may be able to increase their future retirement benefits or qualify for additional benefits by purchasing additional service credit. PERS and TPAF members are eligible to purchase temporary, provisional, certain intermittent service, certain types of leaves, former membership, certain out-of-state service, U.S. Government service, military service and former service in a New Jersey local government retirement system. For those who plan on buying service credit, the cost increases as your salary increases. For more information, go to the Division of Pensions internet site at www.state.nj.us/treasury/pensions. From there click on Publications. Then click on Fact Sheet # 1 "Purchasing Service Credit".

What is a 403(b) defined contribution plan?

 A 403(b) plan is a tax-favored savings/investment plan for employees of public schools.  There are 403(b) plans that are insurance products and 403(b)(7) plans that are strictly savings/investment accounts of mutual funds.  403(b) accounts are similar to the 401(k) defined contribution accounts of private employers.  They are the sole property of the employee and are portable.  This is especially important to someone who is uncertain about longevity with one employer or retirement system.

Employees of public schools are encouraged to begin saving early so that time becomes an ally in building a retirement nest egg.  It is prudent to investigate the options available at your school for the plan design that make the most sense.  Many school districts also offer 457 plans that allow for tax-favored savings.  The NJEA Financial Literacy website offers links to objective sources of information.

Do I have the proper certification?

Most new teachers in New Jersey are hired with either a Certificate of Eligibility (CE) or a Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing (CEAS). Once hired, they must apply for and get a Provisional Certificate. During their first year, they are evaluated three times on state forms which are copied and sent to the Department of Education. This applies to new classroom teachers but not to most non-classroom practitioners such as social workers or guidance counselors.

It is very important that the district register all new classroom teachers who hold either the CE or CEAS for the provisional program and that the teachers apply for and receive their provisional certificate. The teacher is prohibited by statute from teaching until they have the appropriate certificate. Their required year of provisional service and mentoring begins only after they are registered with the State. Visit The New Jersey Department of Education for more information.

What is my PDP?

Under the evaluation of teaching staff members regulations and the professional development regulations,  the content of each teacher’s professional development shall be specified in a PDP; the individual “professional development plan”.  This document is a written statement of actions developed by the supervisor and the teaching staff member {6A:32-4.4(f)3-tenured and 6A:32-4.5(c)3-nontenureed} to meet the needs of the individual teacher in the context of his or her job{6A:9-15.2(b)}.  The content of each teacher’s professional development plan shall align with the Professional Standards for Teachers {6A:9-15.2(c)}.  The activities in each teacher’s professional development plan shall align with the Professional Development Standards {6A:9-15.2(d)}.  All new teachers employed under provisional or standard certificates must have a Professional Development Plan (PDP) within 60 instructional days of the beginning of their teaching assignment {6A:9-15.2(a)}.

What is the 100-hour professional development requirement?

On May 6, 1998, the New Jersey State Board of Education adopted a plan requiring all school personnel - tenured and nontenured alike - who hold instructional licenses or educational services licenses (guidance counselors, nurses, school psychologists, etc.) to complete 100 hours of continuing education every five years, starting Sept. 1, 2000.  This was amended and put into effect January 5, 2009.  All active teaching staff members will begin a new five-year cycle beginning September 1, 2010 and ending on August 31, 2015. All teaching staff members will be on the same five-year cycle.   For those teaching staff members hired after the 2010-2011 school year, the 100-hour requirement will be pro-rated, with no specific annual hourly requirement for teachers entering a five-year cycle in years one through four. For teachers entering a five-year cycle in year five, 20 hours of professional development must be completed in that one year to reflect the balance of time remaining in their professional development cycle until 2015 {6A:9-15.2(a)1&2}.  Your Professional Development Plan (PDP) must cite all professional development (PD) experiences in order for those experiences to count toward your 100 hours. For detailed information on professional development, visit our Teaching and Learning>Professional Learning>Standards and Frameworks links on the NJEA website.

If you have a question that has not been answered here, please ask. An NJEA staff member will get back to you with an answer.