Service men and women who want to teach could have an easier time getting through their classes and into a classroom thanks to a bill advancing by the State Senate Education Committee.

New Jersey legislators are working on a bill which would establish a pilot teacher program at Richard Stockton College for veterans who served on or after 9/11. The program, called the VETeach Pilot Program, would allow vets to take a 36 month accelerated teaching program and would lead to a baccalaureate degree and completion of the requirements to get a certificate to teach in K-8 along with certain post-secondary programs. The timetable is a departure from the traditional route which requires a baccalaureate degree along with three semesters, a path that normally takes participants almost five years to accomplish. The pilot program would complete the same thing in three years.

Educational expenses incurred by these eligible students will be covered under the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, also known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Ninth District Senator Chris Connors is one of the bills sponsors, along with Senator James Wheton, he believes this program will help vets in two ways. "First, our veterans would be offered a unique opportunity to pursue employment opportunities in the education field. Secondly the state's next generation of teachers would consist of more veterans would bring  the classroom their qualities displayed in their tremendous service to our country. "

Connors notes that many veterans coming back from active duty are doing so after leaving their family and employment for several years, and this bill help's them be competitive in a job market where veterans already face 11 and a half percent unemployment.

"The unemployment rate for veterans with higher levels of education is lower than the veterans with less education, so by increasing the education for these veterans we make them more employable."

Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove are cosponsors of the identical companion measure (A-1294), which has been referred to the Assembly Education Committee.