Civics, Social Justice Lessons And More Curriculum Changes SJ Lawmakers Want In Schools

Discussions in the Statehouse could make changes to what your kids learn and what's on the menu in the cafeteria.

South Jersey lawmakers introduced a number of bills in the 2022-2023 session — some of which were held over from last year — concerning public school curriculum and administrative policies, including a requirement for all high school juniors to submit college financial aid applications.

Here's a look at what's been proposed by our local legislators:

School district policies

Election Day excused absence (A1318): Students age 14 and older may be excused from school on Election Day with documentation they volunteered as a poll observer, canvasser or in voter transport to the polls. This bill is sponsored by Assemblywomen Gabriela Mosquera (D-4, Gloucester) and Carol Murphy (D-7, Burlington).

Financial Aid forms (A1181): All high school juniors would be required to fill out financial aid applications for college as a requirement of graduation. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman William Moen (D-5, Camden) narrowly passed through the Assembly Higher Education committee with a 4-3 vote.

In the Cafeteria

Cafeteria Cultural Committee (A3528): A committee would make recommendations on new menu options that better reflect the cultural and dietary food options of the student body. This bill was introduced in March by Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt (D-6, Camden).

School breakfast (A3249): Schools with five percent or more of its students qualifying for free and reduced lunches, must add breakfast programs. This bill was introduced in the Assembly in March by Assemblyman Herb Conaway Jr. (D-7, Burlington).

In the classroom

Suicide Prevention (A3551): The bill proposal expands suicide prevention instruction to all K-12 students, and would discuss mental health as it related to suicide; discuss mental health as an integral part of health; and recognizing warning signs. The bill is sponsored by Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (D-7, Burlington), and is in the Assembly Education Committee. 

Civics lessons (S570): Courses preparing high schoolers to vote and understand how the federal, state, county and local governments operate. The bill, proposed by Sen. Sam Thompson (R-12, Burlington) would require school boards to incorporate the curriculum into 11th-graders’ curriculum and make the course a graduation requirement. It’s before the Senate Education Committee. 

Indigenous Peoples’ history (S2390): Age-appropriate lessons would be required for all K-12 students. The social studies lessons would focus on the cultural diversity and contributions of indigenous people. Sen. Troy Singleton (D-7, Burlington) introduced the bill in the Senate in March.

Social Justice (A2006): Middle school social studies curriculum would include age-appropriate lessons on racial discrimination and social justice developed by the state Commissioner of Education and the Amistad Commission. The bill, sponsored in the Assembly by Herb Conaway Jr. and Carol Murphy (both D-7, Burlington), was referred to the Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee.

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