This is a letter, just released, from four members of the New Jersey State Board of Education, in anticipation of their public meeting tomorrow at 10 am with Acting Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan.
May 3, 2022
Office of the Commissioner
Angelica Allen-McMillan, Ed. D.
New Jersey Department of Education
As you know there has been tremendous push back from the parents of New Jersey’s school children to the soon to be implemented 2020 New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Comprehensive Health & Physical Education commonly known as the Sex Ed standards. On April 13th, the Governor asked The Department of Education to review the standards and provide further clarification on what age-appropriate guidelines look like for our students.
The following day on April 14th, the Department provided a memo of clarification. While this is a good start, we believe a more robust review is warranted. As board members, we continue to hear views of parents and educators with passionate feelings about what is appropriate and inappropriate for their children to learn, especially about sex. This conversation has merit and it provides the opportunity to act in the best interests of children in New Jersey.
Furthermore, we are troubled by your counselling of parents that have issues with the standards to opt out. While we believe it should be the right of parents to opt out, we are troubled that so many find the standards as written to include provisions that would prompt them to opt out, resulting in their children missing so many of the important and less controversial topics that would benefit their children.
The below listed members of the New Jersey State Board of Education are requesting that you voluntarily open a reexamination of the standards by conveying a committee of experts, educators, parents and various stakeholders to review the 2014 and 2020 standards to examine some potential adjustments. Specifically, we are hoping the committee and department will recommend removing some of the more controversial and graphic language as well as reexamine the age appropriateness of the grade at which some of these topics are recommended to be taught.
While the previous examination included public comment, it did occur during Covid lock downs, where many New Jersey parents were distracted or unable to participate in their review. We are requesting unrestricted and robust public statewide input and an examination of whatever recommendations come from this committee. We believe the standards should reflect the will of the people of New Jersey.
While we are aware that some districts have already adopted the 2020 standards, many have not, and we request that they are given permission to continue to teach the 2014 standards and delay the implementation of the 2020 standards until this robust and inclusive review is completed.
Thank you for your consideration.
Andrew Mulvihill, Vice President, New Jersey State Board of Education
Mary Beth Berry, Member, New Jersey State Board of Education
Mary Elizabeth Gazi, Member, New Jersey State Board of Education
Mr. Jack A. Fornaro, Member, New Jersey State Board of Education