TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph V. Doria which would establish a pilot eye exam program for second grade students in New Jersey was approved by the Senate Education Committee today by a vote of 4-0.
“Undiagnosed vision problems are a major impediment for children to achieve their educational potential,” said Senator Doria, D-Hudson, Vice Chair of the Education Committee. “Too often, kids don’t speak up about any vision problems they may be experiencing, and they start falling behind in their studies because they can’t see the blackboard. By giving parents an idea of their children’s eye care needs, we can hopefully equip our State’s students to do the best they can in their studies.”
The bill, S-2448, would require the Commissioner of Education to establish a three-year comprehensive eye exam pilot program for second-grade students. The Commissioner would select one school district in each of the northern, central and southern regions of the State, including an urban, suburban and rural district in the program. The Commissioner would also be able to consider the percentage of students classified as eligible for special education services in the determination of school districts to participate in the program.
“School districts in New Jersey spend more per pupil on special education than regular curriculum, and if students are misclassified, there’s savings to be had there,” said Senator Doria. “But more important than the bottom line to school districts is that we give kids every opportunity to excel in their classwork, in order to develop into the future leaders this State needs. Ensuring vision problems don’t stand in the way of a quality education seems like a common sense approach which will help New Jersey’s students achieve bright futures.”
The bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration before going to the full Senate for a vote.