Senators Michael Testa and Senator Joe Pennacchio have introduced legislation that would prevent critical race theory (CRT) from being taught in New Jersey public schools.
“Critical race theory is a thinly-veiled effort to legitimize discrimination under the guise of an intellectual social theory,” said Testa (R-1). “Our legislation ensures that New Jersey’s public schools will not teach students that it’s okay to judge others or themselves or to treat people differently based on broad stereotypes that some inappropriately ascribe to an entire race or gender. We believe every person deserves to be treated as an individual.”
The legislation, S-4166, would prohibit a school district from teaching critical race theory as part of a curriculum, course of instruction, or through supplemental instructional materials that promote concepts related to CRT.
Across the nation
Critical Race Theory has become a controversial touchstone across the country in politics and public education. A similar bill has been introduced in the New York State Assembly by a Republican assemblyman; it appears unlikely to gain support because Democrats in New York control the state Assembly, the state Senator and the governor’s office.
Pennacchio, the Republican whose district includes West Milford, said: “Every student should be empowered through lessons emphasizing the opportunity they have to succeed through their own hard work, individual merit, and the personal character they demonstrate to others. That’s wholly incompatible with critical race theory, which would indoctrinate students with the limiting belief that people are inherently privileged, oppressive, racist, sexist, or morally deficient due to little more than the circumstances of their birth.”
The bill does not prohibit the impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history or discussion of the historical oppression of a particular group of people. It also doesn’t prevent teaching about an ethnic group or historical documents.
A school district that knowingly violates the CRT provisions of the legislation could have its State school aid withheld until it is no longer in violation.
The legislation would require the State Board of Education to adopt rules and regulations prohibiting public school teachers from engaging in political, ideological or religious advocacy in the classroom.
The State board would be required to adopt rules and regulations requiring teachers to provide students with materials supporting both sides of a controversial issue being addressed to present both sides in a fair-minded and nonpartisan manner.
The bill also requires the State board to adopt clear guidelines for enforcement and provide penalties for violations up to and including termination of employment.
“Public school teachers have an obligation to help students learn the fundamental skills and knowledge they’ll need to be successful throughout life,” added Pennacchio. “Our legislation will prevent unnecessary and inappropriate distractions that steal from instruction time. Ensuring that classroom discussions remain focused on core topics will be good for students.”