Requiring legislative approval of revisions to state learning standards keeps DOE in check, says DePhillips
TRENTON, N.J. – The state Education Department is proposing changes to its English and math learning standards for grades K-12 this year. In an effort to prevent a repeat of the controversial health standards adoption of 2020, Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips wants the Legislature to have the final vote.
DePhillips’ bill (A5456) gives the Legislature the power to approve or reject updates to core curriculum content standards before they can be enacted by the State Board of Education.
“Unelected bureaucrats pushing through state curriculum changes with an obvious political agenda is insulting to teachers and parents. My proposal would give power back to the people who can elect representatives who will give them a voice to fight on behalf of their children and an appropriate and quality education,” DePhillips (R-Bergen) said. “New Jersey’s process to overhaul learning standards is absent the proper checks and balances. This will change that.”
Under current law, state education officials must review and update learning standards every five years. During the height of Gov. Phil Murphy’s lockdowns in June 2020, the State Board of Education approved major changes to the health and physical education standards to include topics such as gender identity and masturbation. Schools are still experiencing backlash from being forced to include polarizing curriculum in their classrooms or lose state funding.
“The State Board of Education proved they are more concerned with advancing ideology than improving learning when they quietly adopted the health curriculum updates and subsequently threatened schools who didn’t want to teach it,” DePhillips said. “Right now, not many people are aware of the process or how to provide input. That suits the Murphy administration just fine, but it is not how the government is supposed to work.”
Under DePhillips’ measure, the Legislature would be required to vote on the changes to learning standards within 45 days of receiving them from the state board.
“Involving the Legislature in the process to approve curriculum standards puts a spotlight on what is arguably one of the most important issues New Jersey is facing today – the future of education for millions of schoolchildren,” DePhillips said.