Thirty education bills were introduced on Monday, May 9th–15 into the Assembly Education Committee (AED) and 15 into the Senate Education Committee (SED). S2481 was both introduced and passed by the SED. Ten of these bills have primary sponsors or co-sponsors who are members of the AED or SED, with rules proposed concerning curriculum (A3860, S2481), athletics (S2445), kindergarten (S2444), school funding (A3893), pensions (S2411), excused absences (S2414), transportation (S2439), early childhood (S2475), and school start time (S2462).

S2481: Curriculum Transparency

SED Chair Vin Gopal (D-11) is a Primary Sponsor–along with Sen. Joseph Lagana (D-38), a non-committee member–on the proposed “Transparency in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Curriculum Act.” This act would require school boards to prominently post information regarding the NJ Student Learning Standards (NJSLS) in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education, specifically, as well as “the statutory right of the parent or guardian to decline their child’s participation in any portion of the health, family life education, or sex education curriculum and the procedure for exercising that right.” S2481 also calls for the Department of Education to develop support materials and sample lessons for all NJSLS subject areas but not the requirement of school boards to use these resources. The Act would go into effect immediately and apply to the first full school year after enactment.

A3860: Teaching Indigenous History

One bill has received a Criticality Rating; it requires the teaching of the history and contributions of the Indigenous people of the United States for students in grades kindergarten through 12 (A3860). Five Assembly members, representing five different districts, all Democrats, are sponsoring the bill. In addition to making it law to teach this content under the NJSLS in Social Studies, they are calling on the New Jersey Commission on American Indian Affairs to assist with creating instructional materials. There is an identical bill (S2390) sitting in the SED.

Mandating the teaching of Indigenous history and the contributions of Indigenous people follows in the footsteps of other NJ legislation requiring an inclusive and diversified curriculum. Collectively, these laws are working toward an equitable, anti-racist, anti-oppressive transformation of society by exposing students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds to more perspectives and decentering Whiteness.

See an overview of all bills introduced into the NJ Legislature’s education committees on JWLLC’s Critical Bill Monitor page.