Both houses of the Legislature convened in Trenton for Voting Sessions this week. The General Assembly passed three bills impacting our schools and NJPSA members. The first of those bills was an important effort to elevate student voice, according to the bill’s sponsors.
- A-3392 Requires Student Representative on Board of Education
This legislation requires a board of education of a district serving grades 9-12, include a student representative on the board of education. NJPSA was successful in its efforts to amend the bill to promote student voice by having students select their own representative in a method of their choice, rather than have the board of education appoint the student representative. The General Assembly unanimously passed this measure (72-0-0).
The Assembly also passed two measures that would require New Jersey schools to incorporate lessons on diversity, racial discrimination and unconscious and implicit bias into the state’s learning standards. These bills sparked a bit of floor debate, with some members speaking in opposition of the bills arguing that schools and the NJDOE are already juggling so many pandemic-related issues that this is not the year to be adding new curriculum requirements.
- A-4454 Instruction on Diversity and Inclusion
Prior to this bill getting to the Assembly floor, NJPSA successful advocated for an amendment to this legislation which requires districts to incorporate instruction on diversity and inclusion into the curriculum in grades 9-12 as part of the implementation of the NJ Learning Standards. Initially, the bill required this topic to be taught in Health and Physical education. The recent updating of the NJ Learning Standards has incorporated such instruction in our standards. The bill requires the Commissioner of Education to provide sample learning activities and resources to districts. The bill was passed by the Assembly with 52 votes in the affirmative, 10 in the negative, and 10 abstentions.
- A-4545 Instruction on Social Justice Issues
Similarly, NJPSA worked with the sponsor to seek amendments to this legislation at the committee level. The amendments remove initially proposed curriculum mandates in the bill. Now the bill proposes that boards include instruction on social justice and racial discrimination issues within the curriculum of middle school students as part of the district’s implementation of the NJ Student Learning Standards in Social Studies. This bill was passed by the General Assembly by a vote of 56-7, with 9 members abstaining.
These bills now await action by the upper house. Your NJPSA GR team will continue to keep you informed. If you have any questions, would like to weigh in on or check the status of a bill, please do not hesitate to reach out at any time: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.