Protesters appearing at Haddonfield Board of Education (BOE) meetings are criticizing the 2020 New Jersey School Learning Standards (NJSLS): new mandates for seven core subjects including health and science. Among the changes: NJ is the first state to teach climate change as a core part of our curriculum, and the second (after California) to integrate LGBTQ+ for grades 5 to 12.
Haddonfield’s BOE adopted the NJSLS standards, as required. Administrators will provide resources to support faculty as they start adding materials and assessments. Interpreting and integrating the core standards is still up to the individual teacher as it has always been – not the BOE.
Protesting NJSLS at the local BOE level is misguided: the BOE has complied, and no further action is required or permitted. Most of the challenge appears to be sponsored by a conservative movement objecting to the inclusion of LGBTQ+ and/or the new health standards, and they know their battle isn’t at the local level. It’s all contrived to spark fear and fuel public outrage.
As it turns out, many citizens who have spoken out against NJSLS at recent meetings do not even live in Haddonfield. As one friend said, “They don’t want to control what their kid is learning – they want to restrict what your kid is learning”.
The BOE publicly explained that a concerned parent’s best course of action is to communicate with their child’s teacher. NJ families are permitted to opt-out of specific health and family life lessons that do not align with their religious beliefs. So, don’t believe the hype. Schedule a meeting with a teacher, have a chat. Trust your child’s teacher to develop lessons the way they always have: with an eye to the world that our children will not only live in, but will thrive in.
Maureen Lynn Eyles
Former Board of Education Member