Bill Would Make Sure Students Receive Decent Education, Annual Medical Check-Up
TRENTON – Senator Loretta Weinberg said today that she plans to introduce legislation once the Senate reconvenes to ensure greater oversight and regulation of home-schooling in New Jersey, in order to ensure children receive a decent education and go for an annual medical check-up.
“Parents are within their rights if they choose to home-school their kids, but those kids shouldn’t lose out for that decision,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “Whether kids receive their education in the traditional school setting or at home, they should be getting a decent education, and should get an annual medical check-up. This bill is about protecting kids and making sure that they have the building blocks for success later in life.”
Senator Weinberg’s proposed bill would require the parent of a home-schooled child to provide certain information annually to the school district in which they reside. Under the bill, the parent must submit a letter by August 1 of each year to the superintendent of their local school district, informing the district of the decision to home-school the child for that school year. The letter must include the name and birth date of the child and the name of the person who will provide instruction to the child.
The bill would also require that by June 30 of each school year, a portfolio of student records and materials used to assess the reading, writing and computational skills of the student be submitted to the school district. The parent of a home-schooled child would also be required to submit documentation to the district board of education that the child has undergone an annual medical examination. Finally, the bill provides that any child under the care, custody or supervision of the Division of Youth and Family Services, including children placed in resource family homes or in kinship care homes, may not be home-schooled unless the child’s home-schooling is approved by the division.
“New Jersey has among the most lax regulations in the entire nation, and unfortunately, we’ve seen instances in which home-schooled kids aren’t taught even the most basic skills and educational fundamentals,” said Senator Weinberg. “In cases when parents are doing the right thing, and educating their kids in a loving and productive environment, the new requirements will be easy to fulfill. However, this bill is intended to help kids who’ve fallen through the cracks, who may not be getting a sufficient level of education as guaranteed to all children under our State constitution’s promise of ‘thorough and efficient education.’”
The bill would likely be referred to the Senate Education Committee for consideration. Senator Weinberg said she would formally introduce the bill the next time the Senate achieves quorum.