In a March 14th Press Release, the New Jersey Public Education Coalition requested guidance with regard to Local School districts that are failing to completely implement the 2020 NJ Student Learning Standard for Comprehensive Health and Physical Education. Research and observations of local School Districts and Boards of Education by NJPEC volunteers indicate that numerous districts across New Jersey are exploring and implementing ways to avoid what they consider to be “objectionable elements” of the state’s Health and Physical Education mandate (2020 NJSLS-CHPE).
Notably, the “objectionable elements” in the mandated curriculum 1) give students the language necessary to report sexual abuse, 2) encourage safe sex practices to prevent pregnancy, 3) provide factual information on vaginal, anal and oral sex and their connection to the transmission of STI/STDs, 4) support each student’s right to say “no” and show them how to set limits and 5) improve understanding of gender identity and gender expression issues.
The avoidance mechanisms being used by local districts are: 1) removing certain mandated standards from their curriculum; 2) relegating topics to be taught by parents at home; 3) making elements of the mandate a homework assignment rather than taught by professionals in the classroom; 4) making it the subject of an in-school assembly; 5) teaching it on the last day of the school year and/or 6) require students to be “opted-in” to the curriculum as opposed to “opted-out” in violation of N.J.S.A.18A:35- 4.7. Many districts are also looking at having mandated curriculum taught only to students who opt in (through parental consent). Currently, the curriculum is mandatory unless a student’s parent officially opts them out.“Maneuvers like these eviscerate the intent and spirit of the mandate,” notes Michael Gottesman, a retired attorney from Wayne NJ and founder of NJPEC. “And endangerthe safety of our school age children.”
“Of course, all subject matter is not intended for every age level and not every parent will want the curriculum taught to their child,” Gottesman points out, “and that is why parents retain the ability to have their child opted-out of the program or portions of it. The objections of those parents must be honored. But they cannot force their viewpoint on another parent’s child.”
NJPEC considers these avoidance actions a violation of the School Board Code of Ethics, the School Ethic Act (N.J.S.A. 18A:12-21 et seq.), the NJ School Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion A-12-22, the Board of Education member sworn oath of office, New Jersey education law, in particular, NJSA 18A:35-4.7 and potentially, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq.
NJPEC has created and will be posting a Petition for support by any resident of the State of New Jersey, demanding action and/or guidance by/from the Commissioner of Education, Department of Education, NJ State Board of Education, and the Office of the Governor to address these issues. Further, the Petition demands that the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General begin enforcement of the 2020 NJSLS CHPE mandate.
The petition may be downloaded using the this link.
This is a press release.