Are parents hearing bad info on NJ’s sex/gender curriculum standards?
New Jersey education leaders and many others are applauding the directive issued by Gov. Phil Murphy that calls on the state Department of Education to review updated student learning standards and provide clarification on what age-appropriate guidelines look like for subjects including gender identity and sexual orientation.
Many parents and politicians have voiced concerns this week about the standards, and how they will be integrated into classroom instruction in New Jersey public schools beginning next fall.
Lots of misinterpretation
Rich Bozza, the executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, said “the governor’s idea to get information I think is very important right now because there have been some misinterpretations of what has happened with the standards.”
Some Republican lawmakers have voiced fears that the standards would open the door to children in kindergarten, first and second-grade getting lessons about different sexual issues that could include graphic detail.
Sen. Edward Durr, R-Gloucester, went one step further on Tuesday, announcing he is sponsoring a measure that would prohibit schools from making any mention of gender identity and sexual orientation until at least seventh grade.
Bozza pointed out that as different school districts decide how best to present their physical education and health classes to their students, there is a requirement for them to consult with representatives of the community.
Get the right information out
“There really is an obligation to get out the correct information, for the superintendent of schools and the board of education, in particular, to say here’s what we’re doing in our community, here’s how we’re developing a curriculum,” said Bozza.
He noted it’s up to each individual school district “to promulgate the curriculum that responds to the state standards and certainly there can be conversations in districts by community members of different points of view.”
State Sen. Jon Bramnick, R-Union, said the fact that Murphy wants to slow down the implementation of the new standards is a positive step.
He also said it’s vital to get community members involved.
“Let’s get parents at the table, let’s get psychologists at the table and then you can make a determination on what to teach and when to teach,” he said.
“You always want to talk to the parents, parents are still in charge, you want to psychologists who have dealt with children, who have a specific expertise in child psychology.”
Bozza said if parents have questions or concerns about curriculum issues they should go to their local school district and “talk with the superintendent, talk with the board of education so that what that district is indeed doing can get out, and I think they would be comforted when they find out what the reality is.”
He added once that happens, “people realize that the perceptions that are out there that something really extreme is happening is indeed not happening.”