The Senate Education Committee met on Monday, May 14th and deliberated on an assortment of bills. All of the bills considered were successfully passed out of the Committee, although not all had the unanimous support of the panel.
S-365 Requires school buildings to be equipped with emergency light and panic alarm linked to local law enforcement. This bill requires that all public elementary and secondary schools be equipped with a panic alarm for use in a school security emergency including a non-fire evacuation, lockdown, or active shooter situation. The panic alarm, which will not be audible within the school building, must be directly linked to law enforcement authorities and must immediately transmit a signal or message to the authorities upon activation. The Committee amended this bill to be named “Alyssa’s Law,” in honor of Alyssa Alhadeff, a 14-year old student, who was killed on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Until a few years ago, Alyssa and her family were residents of Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. The Committee further amended the bill to require that the emergency light and panic alarm systems adhere to nationally recognized industry standards and are installed by New Jersey licensed businesses. NJPSA supported this legislation. S-365 has already passed the full General Assembly by a vote of 66-6-1. On Monday, it was passed, as amended, by the Senate Education Committee by a vote of 4-1. It has now been referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
S-691 Requires that if a school district satisfies 80% or more of the required NJ Quality Single Accountability Continuum standards in an area of district effectiveness under State intervention, the State must return that area to local control. This bill provides that in the case of a school district under partial or full State intervention, the State must withdraw from intervention in an area of school district effectiveness in which the district has satisfied 80 percent or more of the quality performance indicators in that area. The bill provides further that the Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education may not use any other factor in making the determination to withdraw from an area of school district effectiveness if the district meets or exceeds the 80 percent threshold. S-691 passed out of the committee with a vote of 4-0, with one abstention, and could now be posted for a vote by the full Senate.
S-858 Requires teachers of health and physical education in grades kindergarten through six in public schools to possess appropriate endorsement to instructional certificate. This bill requires that teachers appointed to teach health, health and physical education, or physical education in grades kindergarten through six possess the appropriate endorsement to their instructional certificate. The bill includes a “grandfather” provision that will allow teachers who received an elementary school endorsement prior to the bill’s effective date, to continue to be permitted to teach health and physical education, physical education, or health at these grade levels. NJPSA voiced support for high quality instruction in health and physical education at all grade levels and commended the health and physical education professionals for their quality work and instruction. However, NJPSA did express concern about this bill’ impact on staffing flexibility and costs. It was passed by the Education Committee unanimously (5-0), and could now be posted for a vote by the full Senate.
S-1126 Requires public school districts to provide instruction on “New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act” as part of New Jersey Student Learning Standards. This bill requires each board of education which operates an educational program for public school students in grades 9 through 12 to provide information on the provisions of the “New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act,” (P.L.2000, c.58). The bill specifies that the instruction will take place as part of the district’s implementation of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. NJPSA supported this bill. This bill was passed by the Education Committee unanimously (5-0), and could now be posted for a vote by the full Senate.
S-1630 Establishes grant program for school districts and charter schools to develop dual language immersion programs. This bill would direct the Commissioner of Education to establish a dual language immersion program. Under the program, the commissioner would provide grants to school districts and charter schools to develop dual language immersion programs in Chinese, Spanish, French, or any other language approved by the commissioner. Under the bill, a school district or charter school may be eligible to receive funds if it uses an instructional model that provides at least 50 percent of its instruction in English and 50 percent of its instruction in Chinese, Spanish, French, or any other language approved by the commissioner. The program would have to begin in kindergarten or in grade one and would need to meet any other requirements established by the commissioner. The grant program established in this bill would be financed by a nonlapsing fund in the Department of Education. The fund would consist of moneys appropriated by the Legislature, as well as private gifts, grants, or donations. NJPSA was supportive of this bill. The bill was passed by the Senate Education Committee with a 4-1 vote, and has been second referenced to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
S-1816 Directs State Board of Education to authorize computer science education endorsement to instructional certificate. This bill directs the State Board of Education to authorize a computer science education endorsement to an instructional certificate. The endorsement would authorize the holder to teach computer science in all public schools, and would be required to teach computer science in grades 9 through 12 beginning at such time as the State board determines that there is a sufficient number of teachers holding the computer science education endorsement to make the requirement feasible. The bill also includes a grandfather provision that permits a teacher to be issued a computer science education endorsement upon application to the State Board of Examiners, if the person is teaching computer science within the three years prior to such time as the State board determines to require a computer science education endorsement to teach computer science. This bill was passed by the Education Committee unanimously (5-0) with amendments. NJPSA successfully sought an amendment to require a demonstration of knowledge and proficiency, through coursework and/or teaching experience, to the State Board of Examiners for teachers to receive the endorsement. S-1816 has already been passed by the full General Assembly (76-0). It could now be posted for a vote by the full Senate.
S-2092 Requires school districts to include instruction on consequences of distributing sexually explicit images through electronic means as part of New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education. This bill requires a board of education to include instruction on the social, emotional, and legal consequences of distributing sexually explicit images through electronic means, a practice commonly referred to as “sexting,” once during the middle school grades in an appropriate place in the curriculum as part of the district’s implementation of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education. NJPSA supported this bill. S-2092 was passed by the Education Committee unanimously (5-0). It has already been voted on by the General Assembly and passed 73-0, and could now be posted for a vote by the full Senate.
S-2526 Concerns State criteria for determining whether a child has specific learning disability under federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.” New Jersey State Board of Education regulations at N.J.A.C.6A:14-3.5(c)12 currently permit school districts to use two methodologies for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability under the IDEA: (1) a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability; and (2) use of a response to scientifically based interventions methodology. This bill requires the State to also permit a school district to utilize the third approach permitted under federal IDEA regulations, which examines whether the child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved grade-level standards, or intellectual development, that is determined by the eligibility group to be relevant to the identification of a specific learning disability, using appropriate assessments. NJPSA supported this bill. S-2526 was passed by the Education Committee unanimously (5-0) and could now be posted for a vote by the full Senate.
S-2527 Requires Department of Agriculture to promote school meal programs. This bill requires the Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Department of Education, to develop promotional material for the “School Meal Program” and provide every school district with the “School Meal Program” promotional material. The promotional material is intended to highlight and promote the value and importance of the National School Lunch Program, the federal School Breakfast Program, and the federal Summer Food Service Program, and the importance of providing a nutritious meal to all children for their general health and their success in school. NJPSA supported this bill. S-2527 was passed by the Education Committee unanimously (5-0) and could now be posted for a vote by the full Senate.
If you have questions or would like more information about the bills heard by the Senate Education committee this week, please contact the NJPSA Government Relations Department.