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Candidate Forum Roundup - Question 3

Question 3 – What are the benefits of the new New Jersey Health and P.E. Curriculum? Do you support the changes? Why or why not?

The updated New Jersey Health and P.E. Learning Standards were approved in 2020. They are now being implemented in all NJ school districts. The Learning Standards are the overarching goals set by the state. Every discipline has Learning Standards. Individual school districts then develop the curriculum. In Verona, the curriculum is developed by administrators and teachers. The Board of Education is responsible for reviewing the curriculum, asking any questions that they may have or seeking clarification, and then voting to approve or not approve the curriculum. Last, the individual teachers create their lesson plans for implementing the curriculum.

While the state has mandated the Learning Standards, individual school districts have a lot of leeway in how the Learning Standards are implemented. This local planning allows for differences in culture and needs, across the almost 600 school districts, to be considered when implementing the standards. It is one of the most important jobs of the BOE as the Board members must ensure the curriculum meets the Learning Standards and is appropriate for our town. There has been a lot of noise regarding the implementation of the Learning Standards, a lot of it centering around a “model curriculum” not created by the New Jersey Department of Education, nor individual school districts, but by outside organizations. As far as I know, no school district in N.J. has fully implemented a third-party model curriculum for the Health and P.E. Standards. Verona has not.

Having reviewed the curriculum Verona did pass, I personally found it to be on the whole appropriate. There may be one or two items I would have liked pushed a bit later, but overall it was appropriate. There was a lot of information regarding consent, the make-up of families, abstinence, and in later years, safe practices for all genders. I will also note that I was present at the BOE meeting where the curriculum was proposed and approved. There were no public comments for or against the curriculum.

As I stated at the Forum, parents retain the right to opt-out of specific lessons in the health curriculum. I fully support any parent who wishes to do so. I encourage parents to review the curriculum material available online at the Verona Public School District website, and reach out to the individual teacher to discuss any concerns regarding the curriculum and how and when specific pieces of it will be presented to the class.

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