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Back to July Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 162 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS JULY 1999

New Jersey Legislature Adopts
Resolutions Against STW

The following resolution opposing School-to-Work passed the New Jersey Senate on May 10. An identical resolution (AR 146) is pending in the General Assembly, where it was introduced by Assemblymen E. Scott Garrett and Guy F. Talarico. AR 146 has more than half the Assembly members as cosponsors. This resolution represents a significant accomplishment by the grass roots (led by NJ Eagle Forum), who worked hard to educate citizens throughout the state.

Though New Jersey's plan to make on-the-job training mandatory for every high school junior and senior has been derailed, School-to-Work or "Workplace Readiness" retains strong support from Governor Christine Todd Whitman and the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE).

In a related development, the state's largest teachers union, the NJEA, and two school districts have filed suit to force the NJDOE to ensure that public debate is allowed before any rules are imposed on public schools. STW policies have been implemented in New Jersey and other states without such debate.

According to many parents and education activists, "the battle lines have been drawn, with Governor Whitman and the NJDOE on one side, and just about everyone else in the state on the other side."

SENATE RESOLUTION No. 73
State of New Jersey
March 18, 1999

The Senate Education Committee reports favorably Senate Resolution Bill No. 73.

This resolution expresses the objection of the Senate to the school-to-work provisions incorporated into the new chapter of administrative code being developed by the Department of Education to implement the core curriculum content standards and the statewide assessment system. The resolution also urges that school-to-work provisions be eliminated and that local boards of education be permitted to determine the necessity and nature of any career program for their own school districts. According to the department's timetable, the new chapter of administrative code is not scheduled to be formally proposed until August, 1999.

The school-to-work provisions being developed by the department represent a fundamental shift in the way the children of New Jersey will be educated. The school-to-work provisions emphasize career education and include three phases: career awareness in kindergarten through grade 4; career exploration in grades 5 through 8, with the development of individual career plans during this phase; and career preparation in grades 9 through 12, with students being required to identify a career major, from a list of 14 majors, prior to the start of the 11th grade. Eleventh and 12th grade students would be required to participate in a structured learning experience which could include volunteer activities, community service, paid or unpaid employment opportunities, school-based enterprises, or participation in an apprenticeship program. The structured learning experience would be linked to the student's career plan and would be required of every student for a minimum of one day per week or the equivalent thereof, resulting in a 20% loss of academic instructional time.

The school-to-work proposal would limit students' choices too early in their lives and impose job specific skills training on the educational system at the expense of instructional time in academic subjects.

Whereas, The Department of Education is developing a new chapter of administrative code to implement the core curriculum content standards and the statewide assessment system which will fundamentally reform public education in New Jersey; and

Whereas, A number of the proposals incorporated in the code represent new graduation requirements for public school students and since the current requirements for graduation were initially established by the Legislature under chapter 7C of Title 18A of the New Jersey statutes, a revision of those standards of the magnitude incorporated within the proposed code and which represent a fundamental change in the educational requirements for secondary school students should undergo legislative review; and

Whereas, The new code provisions will not be formally proposed, according to the timetable set forth by the Department of Education, until August, 1999; and

Whereas, The new code provisions emphasize career education and include three phases in this area: career awareness in kindergarten through grade 4; career exploration in grades 5 through 8, with the development of individual career plans during this phase; and career preparation in grades 9 through 12, with students being required to identify a career major, from a list of fourteen majors, prior to the start of the 11th grade; and

Whereas, The new code provisions require that 11th and 12th grade students, for a minimum of one day per week or the equivalent thereof, participate in a structured learning experience which is linked to the student's career plan and which could include volunteer activities, community service, paid or unpaid employment opportunities, school-based enterprises, or participation in an apprenticeship program; and

Whereas, The new code provisions will make school-to-work a requirement for all students in the state, and will result in the loss of 20% of academic instructional time, putting students at a competitive disadvantage in collegiate academic programs; and

Whereas, The school-to-work component of the new code provisions will result in limiting students' choices far too early in their lives and imposing job specific skills training on the educational system at the expense of instructional time in academic subjects; now, therefore,

Be It Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey that

1. This House objects to the school-to-work provisions incorporated into the new chapter of administrative code being developed by the Department of Education to implement the core curriculum content standards and the statewide assessment system. This House urges that school-to-work provisions be eliminated and that local boards of education be allowed to determine the necessity and nature of any career program for their own school districts.

2. The Clerk of the General Assembly shall transmit a duly authenticated copy of this resolution to the State Board of Education and the Commissioner of Education.

Editor's Note: The New Jersey School Boards Association has also adopted a resolution opposing mandatory School-to-Work.

 
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