Legislative Update – March 16, 2022

Welcome to a (belated) legislative update.  The legislature has been moving a bit slowly recently, but three really good things have happened in the past week:

  • A bill to end the use of edTPA moved out of the Senate Education Committee.
  • Governor Murphy introduced his Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget.
  • A bill to make the NJGPA into a field test for the class of 2023 moved out of the Assembly Education Committee.

edTPA

Let’s start with edTPA.  edTPA is a Pearson test that preservice educators complete as a prerequisite to earning their Certificates of Eligibility with Advanced Standing (CEAS).  (A CEAS is the endorsement that individuals who completed student teaching receive.)  Alternate route educators, those that did not complete an education preparation program before starting teaching, also need to complete the edTPA as part of their receipt of a standard certificate. 

Mercer County Government Relations Committee member Lisa Riziello heard from newer teachers about the difficulties of the edTPA – from the cost to the amount of time it takes.  She organized a meeting with members and legislators to talk about the edTPA, and the legislators in attendance introduced a bill to remove it as a requirement.  The Government Relations Committee, NJEA staff, teacher preparation programs and other education groups have been lobbying the legislature to pass a bill removing the edTPA.  And last Monday, March 7 that happened, with fantastic testimony from NJEA Vice President Steve Beatty and member Efrain Monterroso..  The bill now awaits a floor vote in the Senate and action in the Assembly.

You can read Vice President Steve Beatty’s testimony here, and read more details about the hearing here.

Ask your legislators to support eliminating the edTPA!

State Budget

Tuesday, March 8, Governor Murphy presented his FY 2023 budget.  It’s been two years since the governor addressed a joint session of the legislature.  Watching the livestream, it seemed like budget addresses in previous years.  Lots of pomp and circumstance, lots of people, and lots of applause and standing ovations from the governor’s party while the opposite party sits.  One big difference?  Senate President Scutari…

In his budget address, Governor Murphy stressed the following points:  affordability, economic opportunity, health and safety, and planning for the future.  We’ll focus on the budget more in a future update and talk about the budget process, but here’s a very brief look at public education.  This year’s budget proposal

  • fully funds the pension
  • increases school funding (although many districts lose funding according to the formula), with an additional $650 million in K-12 school aid, and more money for preschool
  • increases funding for programs to make college more affordable for students.

Want details about the budget?

  • You can read about school funding in this detailed article, and find your district’s allocation here.
  • Watch reporters John Reitmeyer and David Cruz break down the budget.
  • Read the governor’s budget speech.
  • Read the budget in brief.

The first public budget hearing will be on March 21; the legislature goes on budget break at the start of April.

Assessment

Assessment has been a hot topic as some legislators believe students need to demonstrate their proficiency via standardized testing, while others believe local school districts make those decisions via grades and credits. 

The state has a new test, the NJGPA, for 11th graders.  The Department of Education recommended a cut score of 725, but the NJ State Board of Education voted to raise the cut score to 750.  The education community has been talking with legislators about multiple concerns with giving this test:  the stress it will cause students and staff, the increase in the cut score done without input from psychometricians, the fact that the test has never been field-tested, and the impact of the raised cut score on graduation rates, all at a time when school staff are working to address students’ social-emotional needs and interrupted learning.

Some legislators heard that, and on Thursday, March 10, just before juniors across the state sat for the NJGPA (that’s the New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment, the new 11th grade test), the Assembly Education Committee took up a bill to make it a field test for current juniors, which passed unanimously from committee.  The sponsor, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, said it would be “educational malpractice” to make the test count this year.

The ultimate passage of this bill remains in question.  The Senate, with Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, may not be willing to take up the bill.  Nonetheless, the awareness of the issue is a win!

Read more about it here.

Mental Health Hearing (bonus topic)

While schools have always needed more resources to address student mental health, the pandemic has brought the issue to the forefront.  The legislature is looking for solutions, and on Monday, March 14, the Senate Education Committee heard from mental health providers and experts about the student mental health crisis across the state.  You can read more about it here or here

Results of Legislative Sessions

Results from March 14

  • A1181 – Requires high school students to complete financial aid applications. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Assembly Education Committee.)
  • S857 – Requires degree‑seeking students enrolled in public institutions of higher education to receive instruction on American government and civic engagement. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate.)
  • S1731 – Establishes New Jersey Higher Education Student Advisory Commission. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate.)
  • SR69 – Urges Congress to pass resolution condemning violence against historically Black colleges and universities. (Support) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.)

Results from March 10

  • A301 – Requires school district to submit emergency communication policies and protocols to Department of Education for review. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Assembly.)
  • A1271 – Permits excused absences for students who attend civic events. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Assembly State and Local Government Committee.)
  • A1822 – Requires school district to establish “School Meal Fund” to assist students with school meal bill in arrears. (Support) (Reported out of committee, referred to Assembly State and Local Government Committee.)
  • A3196 – Requires State Board of Education to administer New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment as field test for class of 2023. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Assembly.)
  • AJR33 – Designates March 31 of each year as “Cesar Chavez Day.” (Support) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly.)
  • A1728 – Expands duties of Commission on Human Trafficking to prevent human trafficking in women and children of color. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Assembly.)
  • A2123– Requires Attorney General to establish educational and public information program concerning State and federal crimes of human trafficking; appropriates $75,000. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Assembly.)

Results from March 7

  • A2067 – Requires Department of Education to annually report use of federal COVID-19 relief funds. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly.)
  • S133 – Permits school bus driver to administer epinephrine to student in emergency under certain circumstances. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.)
  • S528 – Requires certain additional school district personnel to complete training program on suicide prevention. (Support) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.)
  • S713 – Requires school districts to include information on events of September 11, 2001 as part of New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Social Studies; requires public schools to hold annual events commemorating September 11, 2001. (No Position) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate.)
  • S715 – Establishes commission to study effects on adolescents of smart phone and social media usage in school. (Support) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate)
  • S724 – Directs Commissioner of Education to establish three-year pilot program to increase reading levels of certain students; appropriates $1 million. (Support) (Reported out of committee, referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations.)
  • S896 – Prohibits State Board of Education from requiring completion of performance-based assessment as condition of eligibility for certificate of eligibility with advanced standing. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate.)
  • S1677 – Requires schools to provide free school breakfasts and lunches to students from working class, middle-income families; designated as “Working Class Families’ Anti-Hunger Act.” (Support) (Reported out of committee, referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations.)
  • S1929  Makes FY 2022 supplemental appropriation to provide State military impact aid to certain school districts. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.)

Results from March 3

  • S464 – Revises conditions for use of virtual or remote instruction to meet minimum 180-day school year requirement. (Monitor) (Passed in Senate.)
  • S1104 – Revises requirements and process for temporary courtesy licenses and certificates issued by State Board of Examiners, NJ Board of Nursing, and other professional and occupational licensing boards to nonresident military spouses. (Support) (Passed in Senate.)

Results from Feb. 28

  • A1281/S905 – Extends period of time for filing special education due process petitions related to COVID-19 school closures and periods of virtual, remote, hybrid, or in-person instruction. (Monitor) (Passed in both houses and sent to Governor.)
  • A1720 – Requires cultural diversity and implicit bias training be included in police basic training curriculum. (Support) (Passed in Assembly.)
  • A2066 – Requires public schools, and nonpublic schools which receive federal funding, to provide students with information on rights afforded under Title IX, and provide contact information for Title IX coordinator. (Support) (Passed in Assembly.)
  • AJR59 – Designates February 28 of each year as “Amistad Day.” (Support) (Passed in Assembly.)
  • S676 – Indexes for inflation taxable income brackets under New Jersey gross income tax. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.)
  • S737/S951 – Excludes contributions made to certain retirement savings plans under gross income tax. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee with committee substitute, 2nd reading in Senate.)

Results from Feb. 14

  • A1197 – Revises SNAP eligibility requirements for certain students attending institutions of higher education. (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly.)
  • S354 – Establishes School Funding Formula Evaluation Task Force. (Seek Amendments) (Passed in Senate.)
  • S905 – Extends period of time for filing special education due process petitions related to COVID-19 school closures and periods of virtual, remote, hybrid, or in-person instruction. (Monitor) (Passed in Senate.)
  • A2063/S1414 – Extends transmittal date deadline for fiscal year 2022-2023 gubernatorial budget message to Legislature from fourth Tuesday in February to March 8, 2022. (Monitor) (Passed in both houses)
  • A2365 Requires Department of Agriculture to engage in public education campaign to educate parents and guardians of students about existing and expanding school meals program options in New Jersey.  (Support) (Reported out of committee, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee.)
  • A2368 – Requires schools to provide free school breakfasts and lunches to students from working class, middle-income families; designated as “Working Class Families’ Anti-Hunger Act.” (Support) (Reported out of committee, referred to Assembly Budget Committee.)
  • ACR109 – Urges United States Congress to pass “Universal School Meals Program Act of 2021.” (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Assembly.)

Results from Feb. 10

  • S1005 – Authorizes common law public nuisance suits regarding lead paint under State law; exempts Attorney General from certain aspects of public nuisance claims when pursuing lead paint actions. (Support) (Reported out of committee, referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.)
  • S1104 – Revises requirements and process for temporary courtesy licenses and certificates issued by State Board of Examiners, NJ Board of Nursing, and other professional and occupational licensing boards to nonresident military spouses. (Support) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.)

Results from Feb. 7

  • A180 – Directs Attorney General to establish program for anonymous reporting of potential threats to school safety. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Assembly Appropriations Committee.)
  • A795 – Requires employer to provide certain accommodations to employee who is breast feeding. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Assembly.)
  • A1281 – Extends period of time for filing special education due process petitions related to COVID-19 school closures and periods of virtual, remote, hybrid, or in-person instruction. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Assembly.)
  • A1588 – Permits use of preferred names on student diplomas. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Assembly Higher Education Committee.)
  • A2066 – Requires public schools, and nonpublic schools which receive federal funding, to provide students with information on rights afforded under Title IX, and provide contact information for Title IX coordinator. (Support) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly.)
  • A2067 – Requires Department of Education to annually report use of federal COVID-19 relief funds. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee, referred to Assembly Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee)
  • AJR59 – Designates February 28 of each year as “Amistad Day.” (Support) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly.)

Results from Feb. 3

  • A1096 – Requires new flooring for schools and child care centers to be certified mercury free. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Assembly Education Committee.)
  • A1176 – Requires institutions of higher education to implement suicide prevention programs and raise awareness of mental health services. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Assembly Health Committee.)
  • A1720 – Requires cultural diversity and implicit bias training be included in police basic training curriculum. (Support) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Assembly.)
  • S129 – Requires all students enrolled in grades six through 12 to have certain physical examination that includes cardiac component. (Support) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate.)
  • S248 – Establishes pilot program in DOE to support establishment of criminal justice career academies in public high schools. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee, referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.)
  • S354 – Establishes School Funding Formula Evaluation Task Force. (Seek Amendments) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.)
  • S464 – Revises conditions for use of virtual or remote instruction to meet minimum 180-day school year requirement. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, 2nd reading in Senate.)
  • S759 – Requires DEP to develop and implement electric school bus program; provides for $15 million in first year and $15 million annually in subsequent two years to DEP, subject to availability, to provide grants. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee with committee amendments, referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.)
  • S820 – Establishes Division of School Desegregation in DOE to identify racial and socioeconomic segregation of school districts and to ensure better integration in public schools. (Support) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.)
  • S903 – Establishes educational service agencies for procuring custodial and food services in schools and ensures certain employee rights for affected employees. (Oppose) (Reported out of committee, referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.)
  • S904 – Eliminates requirement for State residency of public school employees for period of three years. (Support) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.)
  • S905 – Extends period of time for filing special education due process petitions related to COVID-19 school closures and periods of virtual, remote, hybrid, or in-person instruction. (Monitor) (Reported out of committee, 2nd reading in Senate.)

Signed Into Law

  • A1281/S905 – Extends period of time for filing special education due process petitions related to COVID-19 school closures and periods of virtual, remote, hybrid, or in-person instruction. (Monitor)

When is the Legislature meeting again?

  • Thursday, March 17               Assembly Committees
  • Monday, March 21                 Senate Committees
  • Thursday, March 24               Senate/Assembly Voting Session
  • Budget break!!
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