Big Mess at Murphy’s Ed Department: Some Students Were Tested On Material They Hadn’t Learned YetApril 20, 2022
COMMENTARY: Is This School Really a Remedy For NJ’s Intensely-Segregated School System?April 20, 2022
State Senator Vin Gopal, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, says he will introduce a bill proposal that would require school districts to publish curricula on their websites. This proposal is in response to the Murphy Administration’s new health and physical education standards, approved in June 2020 and set to be implemented in September. These learning standards have been the subject of much ire; some parents and teachers are concerned that they are too explicit about sexual activity and gender fluidity.
Gopal’s bill—called the “Transparency in Health and Sex Education Curriculum”—would “ensure families can ask questions about the lessons, and reinforce parents’ right to opt their children out of sex education classes.” He said in a statement that opponents of the new standards have “purposely spread misinformation and false claims that cause concern for well-meaning parents” about such classes.” According to Advance Media, “he noted that parents have been able to pull their children out of the family life curriculum since 1980.”
During last night’s WNYC “Ask the Governor” hour, Murphy said the standards “are overwhelmingly laudable” and “shame on the folks that were trying to turn it into [culture war stuff]…Enough already in laying into LGBTQIA+ community members…Let’s stop having folks opportunistically divide us. … Let’s be fair about this. Let’s be responsible.”
Murphy also said that, as a father, he felt some of the sample materials were “pretty graphic stuff” that made him “uncomfortable” and that “everything needs to be age-appropriate.” He added that Education Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan’s memo, released last week, sufficiently clarified the issues. Her memo was in response to Murphy’s directive that the DOE offer “clarification” on the standards in question because they had been “intentionally misrepresented by some politicians seeking to divide and score political points.”
In that memo, Allen-McMillan reiterated that curricula was up to individual districts, not mandated by the DOE. She itemized the learning standards for different classes:
- By the end of grade 2, students should be able to “discuss the range of ways people express their gender and how gender-role stereotypes may limit behavior.”
- By the end of grade 5, students should be able to “explain common human sexual development and the role of hormones (e.g., romantic and sexual feelings, masturbation, mood swings, timing of pubertal onset).
- By the end of grade 8, students should be able to “define vaginal, oral, and anal sex.”
She also said that parents could opt-out their children from class content they felt was inappropriate.
Sen. Gopal says he’ll have his bill proposal ready by May 9th, in time for the Senate Education Committee’s next meeting. The bill would have to be approved by the Senate, the Assembly, and then signed by Gov. Murphy.
Adding: Fred Snowflack has a column today at InsiderNJ on how the GOP–not just in NJ but nationally (think of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill)–sees this as a winning issue and “good politics to criticize a sex education curriculum they think has gone ‘too far.’” He writes,
“Tom Kean Jr. wants to make sure he’s not left behind. Kean, who is seeking to oust Democrat Tom Malinowski in CD-7, has created a “Parent’s Voice Coalition,” because as he says, ‘Parents deserve a voice in their children’s education.’
A posting on his Facebook page asks parents to sign up and tell (Phil) Murphy parents deserve a role in their children’s education.
Kean further explained his point in a Monday appearance on Fox News.
He called the health and sex ed standards proposed to take place next fall ‘outrageous,’ because students in lower grades would be exposed to gender identity and taught about pornography.
‘We have to continue this fight,’ he said, adding that Murphy is out of touch.
As we said, Kean is not running against Murphy, he’s running for Congress, which has very little control over what gets taught in public schools.
That’s not the point. Republicans think they have a winning issue.”