EL-MEKKI: We Have an Education Crisis in Our Hands and Curtailing the Charter Schools Program Is No Way to Fix ItApril 12, 2022
NJ Assembly Members To Murphy’s Ed Department: What’s the Plan? Our Kids Can’t Wait.April 12, 2022
Ed. Note: Fox News and other similar outlets are having a field day with New Jersey’s new Student Learning Standards re: Comprehensive Health and Physical Education. Today, for example, Britain’s Daily Mail led with this: “New Jersey public school students as young as 10 could be taught that puberty blockers are an acceptable way to ‘manage’ adolescence and that masturbating ‘a few times a day’ is a healthy way to relieve stress, sample lesson plan reveals.” In a Facebook post, Senate Education Committee Chair Vin Gopal clears up some of these misconceptions. Takeaway: If you school district is indeed teaching 9-year-olds that taking puberty blockers is a grand plan, that’s on your local administrators, not the state Education Department.
In response to multiple articles relating to curriculum education in our schools, I have read through the 66 pages of the Department of Education Guidelines ‘2020 New Jersey Student Learning Standards – Comprehensive Health and Physical Education’ as well have spoken in detail with New Jersey Acting Commissioner of Education Angelica Allen-McMillan. Here is what I have learned:
1) Much of what I read in these articles is not in the guidelines. There is generic language on identifying gender roles and treating all kids, regardless or their gender, with respect. Anything that is more specific than that is coming from a specific Board of Education locally.
2) According to the Department of Education Commissioner, these 66 page guidelines are not being mandated – they are recommended. It is up to a local board of education to use them if they want but they don’t have to. The below is what is being required – up to the districts how they do it: “highlight and promote diversity, equity, inclusion, tolerance and belonging on topics including: gender and sexual orientation; race and ethnicity; disabilities; religious tolerance; and unconscious bias; and encourage safe, welcoming, and inclusive environments for all students regardless of race or ethnicity, sexual and gender identities, mental and physical disabilities, and religious beliefs.”
3) According to the Department of Education Commissioner, any parent can opt their kids out of this if they choose to. I have re-confirmed this with our Monmouth County representative to the State Board of Education which approves the adopted guidelines. They can do this by contacting their local board of education who is in charge of deciding if they want this locally or not.
Given the amount of misinformation out there and questions coming from parents, as Senate Education Chair, I have formally called on the Department of Education and the Governor’s office to provide clarity on all of these items and issue it publicly before any further action is taken on implementation. The 66 page guidelines were done via DOE regulation – not inside legislation or a bill.