In an effort to give parents both a better understanding of their school’s sex ed teachings and the opportunity to ask questions about what will be taught, the head of the New Jersey Senate Education Committee presents new transparency legislation.
Under tremendous pressure from parents across the state, Gov. Phil Murphy has suspended plans to expand the sex ed curriculum into kindergarten and beyond by talking about gender identity and acceptance LGBTQ+.
Senator Vin Gopal says there has been a huge amount of misinformation on both sides of the debate, and his “Health and Sexuality Education Curriculum Transparency Act” aims to combat that .
“We have seen professional political operatives and politicians deliberately spreading misinformation and misrepresentations that well-meaning parents are concerned about,” Gopal said in a statement. “Parents should have all the information they need to make decisions for their children.”
Under Sen. Gopal’s plan, districts would post the exact curriculum to be taught online for parents to see. Parents would then have the right to meet with school officials to ask any questions they might have. Ultimately, parents might withdraw from sex education classes if they disagreed with what was being taught.
When Murphy announced the pause in implementing the new program in the fall, he agreed that parents needed to have a bigger voice.
“There’s a kind of feeling that parents don’t have a say and I would just say that parents absolutely deserve a say in this stuff, along with all the other interested parties, but probably no more interested than the parents,” Murphy said.
Murphy, a Democrat, also warned against bigoted rhetoric.
School administrators welcomed the break.
“There really is an obligation to get the correct information out, for the superintendent of schools and the school board, in particular, to say this is what we do in our community, this is how we put together a program,” said Rich Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators
According to the New Jersey Senate Democratic Office, the Gopal legislation would do the following:
- Mandate that all school programs be uploaded to their school board’s website 14 days before the start of the school year. By doing this, parents and guardians will know exactly what is in the curriculum of their local school district. This will fight misinformation from fake programs distributed online that were created by third parties and not by local governments. Local curriculum transparency is already strongly recommended by the New Jersey School Boards Association.
- Before a school district implements a health and sexuality education program, the following conditions must be met:
- The district must provide either a public opportunity for parents or guardians with children in that specific school district to ask questions and review the curriculum; or,
- The district must provide one-on-one opportunities for parents or guardians from the specific district to meet with school officials to ask questions/review program content. This opportunity should be easily accessible on the official website of the Board of Education. The link should include clear instructions on how a parent or guardian can remove their child from the sex education program if they wish, and parents should be told how to opt out. (In New Jersey, parents have had the right not to participate in the Family Life Program for their children since 1980, when NJSA 18A:35-4.7, the Parents’ Right to Conscience Act, went into effect. )
- The bill reinforces the difference between standards and curricula. Standards are a blueprint that outlines expectations of what students should know and be able to do. They guide the development of the curriculum by each individual district. The curriculum is developed by teachers and school district leaders. It is proposed to the local school board, which must, by law, vote to adopt it. Individual districts control their specific curriculum and lesson plans and that is reaffirmed in this bill.
Gopal says he won’t wait to introduce the bill and plans to present it to his own committee on May 9.
It remains unclear whether there would be enough time to resolve the issues before a new program is implemented in the fall.
Eric Scott is the senior policy director and anchor of New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
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New Jersey Nets 2002-2003: The last time the NBA Finals went through NJ
In 2012, the Nets made their debut in Brooklyn, but before that, New Jersey had been the home of the Nets since 1977.
The franchise was born in 1967, under the name of New Jersey Americans. They played their games at Teaneck as part of the American Basketball Association. A year later they moved to Long Island, becoming the New York Nets.
It was there that the team won two ABA championships in 1973-74 and 1975-76. The following year, the Nets, along with three other basketball franchises, were absorbed into the NBA in a merger agreement, abolishing the ABA.
When the Nets first moved to New Jersey, they played their home games at Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway. Then, in 1981, they moved into the house many of us remember the most, the Brendan Byrne Arena in the Meadowlands in East Rutherford (later named Continental Airlines Arena, then Izod center).
After years of losing, the Nets reached back-to-back NBA Finals in 2001-02 and 2002-03. In 2002-03, the last time they sniffed the championship, the team lost to the San Antonio Spurs.
It would be the last time the Nets would sniff out the title, but their efforts added them to New Jersey lore forever.