"Controversial issues" legislation in New Jersey

A pair of identical bills in New Jersey, Assembly Bill 6136 and Senate Bill 4166, would, if enacted, require the state board of education to adopt rules to prevent public school teachers in the state from engaging in what they describe as "political, ideological, or religious advocacy in the classroom," establishing penalties for violations "up to and including termination of employment."

The rules would require teachers to "provide students with materials supporting both sides of a controversial issue being addressed and to present both sides in a fair-minded, nonpartisan manner," where "controversial issue" is defined as "an issue that is part of an electoral party platform at the local, state, or federal level." As Ars Technica (January 29, 2019) observed in discussing a spate of similar measures in 2019, "a large number of state party platforms specifically mention evolution and climate change."

Assembly Bill 6136 was introduced on December 6, 2021, by Gerard Scharfenberger (R-District 13) and Robert Auth (R-District 39), and referred to the Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee. Senate Bill 4166 was introduced on November 22, 2021, by Michael L. Testa Jr. (R-District 1) and Joseph Pennachio (R-District 26), and referred to the Senate Education Committee.

Glenn Branch
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Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.

branch@ncse.ngo

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