The sponsor of legislation to intensify civics education in New Jersey’s public schools, state Senator Troy Singleton (D-7) addressed the seditious riot by a mob at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6th, and contextualized the country’s and state’s problems going forward.
The bill amends current law that requires the State Department of Education to prepare curriculum guidelines for the teaching of civics for use by local school boards in implementing the required two-year high school course of study in the history of the United States. The bill now directs the New Jersey Center for Civic Education at Rutgers University to prepare curriculum guidelines and also provide professional development for high school social studies teachers in fulfilling the requirement of integrating civics, economics, and the history of New Jersey into the United States history course.
The bill requires the provision of civics instruction to middle school pupils in public schools. Current law requires a course of study in civics, geography, and the history of New Jersey to be provided to public school elementary students, but no similar requirement exists for middle school pupils. Under the bill, beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, each board of education is required to provide a course of study about the values and principles underlying the American system of constitutional democracy, the function and limitations of government, and the role of a citizen in a democratic society. The course is to be taken by all pupils in an appropriate middle school grade. The course of study must include a minimum of two quarters of instruction, or the equivalent.
The bill also directs that the New Jersey Center for Civic Education will provide a clearinghouse of materials, an online resource center, technical assistance, professional development and any other activities to encourage the integration of civics, economics, and New Jersey history in the required high school course in the history of the United States and to enhance the teaching of civics in middle school required pursuant to the bill.
The Legislature is to annually appropriate funds to the New Jersey Center for Civic Education to effectuate the bill’s purposes.