On Thursday, June 4, the Assembly Education Committee released A-4485, a bill that would prohibit the New Jersey Department of Education from withholding state school aid to school districts that had a high percentage of students who refused to take state assessments. NJSBA supported this bill, which was released by an 8-0 vote, with one abstention, on the grounds that no local school board should be penalized because students unilaterally decided not to take the PARCC test.
School Nurse Certification A-1431, a bill that would require State Board of Education regulations regarding school nurse certification to include certain minimum eligibility requirements, also passed the Assembly Education Committee. The State Board adopted new school nurse regulations in June 2013, pursuant to recommendations of the Education Transformation Task Force. The intent of the 2013 regulations, which increased flexibility for local districts, was to simplify certification requirements and address the mismatch between the supply and demand of nurses. Both the New Jersey State School Nurses Association and the NJEA opposed the State Board regulatory changes and are advocating for a return to the previous school nurse education and training requirements. The NJSBA took no position on the 2013 code amendments and remains neutral on A-1431.
Several other bills impacting local school districts were also considered by the Assembly Education Committee on Thursday. They included:
- A-4288 the “Secure Schools for All Children Act;” would establish a state aid program for security services, equipment, or technology to ensure a safe school environment for non-public school students. This bill would extend funding to private, sectarian schools for security purposes. NJSBA opposed the bill, which was released after extended testimony.
- A-4354 would require employees of a private entity with access to student information under contract to the New Jersey Department of Education, school districts, or charter schools, to undergo a criminal background check. This bill was approved by a vote of 6-0, with 3 abstentions. NJSBA supported this bill conceptually but expressed concern that the proposal not be construed to limit scoring of the recent PARCC tests.
- A-4414 would prohibit the administration of certain assessments to special education students and students with limited English proficiency. This bill was held by the committee. It would preclude standardized testing (i.e. PARCC tests) from being administered to English language learners and special needs students. NJSBA opposed the bill; it violates provisions of the Federal IDEA law.
- A4415 would establish a state “seal of biliteracy” to recognize high school graduates who have attained a high level of bilingual proficiency. This bill was unanimously released from the education committee. NJSBA concurred with amendments offered by the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association that the proposal should also require special notation on student transcripts.
- AR-226 (Diegnan) would urge Merriam-Webster, Inc. and the Oxford University Press to include the word “upstander” in the dictionary. The resolution was released along party lines. NJSBA took no position on this proposal.