SENATE, Nos. 854 and 237






     The Senate Education Committee favorably reports a Senate Committee Substitute for Senate Bill Nos. 854 and 237.

     This committee substitute amends current law that requires the State Department of Education to prepare curriculum guidelines for the teaching of civics for use by local school boards in implementing the two-year high school course of study in the history of the United States required under N.J.S.18A:35-1 and N.J.S.18A:35-2.  The substitute now directs the New Jersey Center for Civic Education at Rutgers, The State University to prepare curriculum guidelines and provide professional development for high school social studies teachers in fulfilling the requirement of integrating civics, economics, and the history of New Jersey into the United States history course.

     The substitute requires the provision of civics instruction to middle school pupils in public schools.  Current law requires a course of study in civics, geography, and the history of New Jersey to be provided to public school elementary students, but no similar requirement exists for middle school pupils.  Under the substitute, beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, each board of education is required to provide a course of study about the values and principles underlying the American system of constitutional democracy, the function and limitations of government, and the role of a citizen in a democratic society.  The course is to be taken by all pupils in an appropriate middle school grade.  The course of study must include a minimum of two quarters of instruction, or the equivalent. 

     The substitute also directs that the New Jersey Center for Civic Education at Rutgers, the State University will provide a clearinghouse of materials, an online resource center, technical assistance, professional development and any other activities to encourage the integration of civics, economics, and New Jersey history in the required high school course in the history of the United States and to enhance the teaching of civics in middle school required pursuant to the substitute. 

      The substitute is named in honor of Mrs. Laura Wooten, a great New Jerseyan who contributed a lifetime of civic service.  Mrs. Wooten was born on Dec. 19, 1920, in Goldsboro, North Carolina and was the longest serving poll volunteer in the nation.  Mrs. Wooten graduated from Princeton High School in 1939, was an elder of the First Baptist Church of Princeton, and joined Princeton University as a part time staff member after retiring from Princeton Medical Center at the age of 72.  Mrs. Wooten passed away on March 24, 2019 at the age of 98.