TRENTON – A Republican state senator is highlighting a package of bills he has introduced seeking to reverse what he criticizes as a “woke agenda” in New Jersey schools.

Only one of the four bills sponsored by Sen. Joseph Pennacchio, R-Morris, is new. Two were first introduced 10 months ago and haven’t gotten a hearing, and one has been dormant since it debuted more than 10 years ago.

The goals of the bills generally are in the spirit of ones conservative lawmakers in other states have been pursuing and enacting, and Pennacchio said they are timely given changes to how diversity and gender are taught in New Jersey.

“The woke agenda wielded by Murphy Democrats is a full-scale attack on families,” Pennacchio said. “State government has a role in all of our lives, but it should be to support our security and freedoms, not to dictate how mothers and fathers raise their children or reprogram the way kids think.”

Pennacchio wants the Legislature to act on four bills he says would empower parents:

S1571: Requires public schools to post curriculum plans online; requires school districts to make textbooks or other materials used in implementing curriculum plans available for inspection by parents and legal guardians.

S1570: Requires board of education to publicly post full meeting agenda 48 hours prior to meeting.

S2385: Remove the requirement that instruction on diversity and inclusion be provided in grades kindergarten through eight, and remove the requirement that unconscious bias be examined in any grade. Pennacchio says it would prevent concepts related to critical race theory before high school.

S302: Require counties, municipalities, school districts and other local governments that receive funds from the state to establish a public finance website similar to the state’s transparency site.

“Residents will not quietly tolerate government attempts to hijack the minds of their children,” Pennacchio said.

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Republicans hold 16 seats in the Senate to 24 for the Democrats, so Pennacchio and his party have limited influence on what bills are heard. The ones he is highlighting aren’t likely to make the agenda when the Legislature returns from its budget break in May.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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New Jersey's new legislative districts for the 2020s

Boundaries for the 40 legislative districts for the Senate and Assembly elections of 2023 through 2029, and perhaps 2031, were approved in a bipartisan vote of the Apportionment Commission on Feb. 18, 2022. The map continues to favor Democrats, though Republicans say it gives them a chance to win the majority.

These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

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