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State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrenceville)

Bill mandating civics education goes to Murphy’s desk

By Nikita Biryukov, May 21 2021 3:39 pm

A bill requiring middle and high schools to teach students about their government is headed to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk after earning unanimous approvals from both chambers of the legislature.

“The lack of civics knowledge creates a challenge to maintaining a perfect union, establishing justice, and ensuring domestic tranquility,” said State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrenceville), the bill’s chief Senate sponsor. “We must learn to work together for the good of all of our communities and begin to bridge the deep political chasm that exists in this country.”

The legislation would require middle school students take at least one course on civics or the U.S. government to graduate.

It also directs Rutgers University’s New Jersey Center for Civics Education to prepare curriculum guidelines and support for high school teachers to integrate civics, economics and state history into U.S. history courses.

“This legislation will help to develop critical thinkers with a global understanding of their agency to bring about change, through the channels of government and the power of assembly,” Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) said.

The bill, dubbed Laura Wooten’s Law, is named for a Mercer County woman who served as a poll worker for an astounding 79 years. That’s a national record. Wooten died in March 2019. She was 98.

“In order to have future Americans engaged in our government, we need to ensure they are educated on government matters so we can tackle big issues together,” State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) said.

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