TABITHA’S LAW: A-1902 (Rumana, Diegnan) passed the Assembly 75-0-2 and now goes to the Senate Education Committee. NJEA supported this bill that requires parents to notify school administrators whenever their child will be absent from school, and requires administrators to contact parents whenever a pupil is absent without the parent's having provided prior notice. This bill is named after Tabitha, a young girl in Tennessee who was abducted after being dropped off at school. Her parents were unaware of the abduction and the school was unaware of her absence.
VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL MORATORIUM: A-3105 (Diegnan; Johnson; Greenwald; Vainieri Huttle; Conaway). By a vote of 46-31-1, the full Assembly passed this bill, which would establish a 12-month moratorium on the formation of any virtual charter school in New Jersey. The bill would also set up the Virtual Charter School Task Force to consider, among other things, whether virtual charter schools should exist in New Jersey and whether there is any statutory or regulatory authority for such schools. The task force must issue its report and recommendations to the Legislature by March 1, 2013. The bill now goes to the full Senate where it has been referred to the Senate Education Committee. NJEA supported the bill.
RESOLUTION ON VETERANS EDUCATION BENEFITS: ACR-124 (McHose, Munoz, Gove, Singleton, Tucker) passed the Assembly 75-0 and now moves to the Senate. NJEA supports this concurrent resolution, which urges the President and Congress to enact legislation that permits all veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to transfer their education benefits to dependents. Under current law, only those who served on or after August 1, 2009 have the ability to transfer benefits to their dependents.
BUILDING OUR FUTURE BOND ACT: S-2500 (Sweeney, Kean) was amended on the Senate floor 34-0 and is on second reading in the Senate. NJEA supported this bill which is a major bond referendum for institutions of higher education, the first since 1988. The bill requires public research universities and state colleges and universities, county college and independent institutions of higher education which receive capital project grants to provide institutional funds in an amount to support 25% of the cost of the project. The bonding money will be used for various projects throughout the state and will total $750,000,000. NJEA won a floor amendment reducing the amount of matching funds for county colleges from a 50% match to 25% match.
FLASHING LIGHTS ON SCHOOL BUSES TRANSPORTING DISABLED PERSONS: S-618 (Sweeney, Allen)/ A-925 (Riley, Burzichelli) passed the Assembly by a vote of 77 to 0 and now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature. This legislation requires a school bus transporting disabled persons to use flashing lights when it is stopped on the highway for the purpose of discharging or receiving a person who has a developmental disability. The bill also imposes stricter penalties on drivers who fail to yield. NJEA supports this bill.
PAYCHECK FAIRNESS ACT: SR-50 (Sweeney, Weinberg, Buono) passed the Senate by a vote of 26 to 0 and will now be filed with the Secretary of the Senate and forwarded to every member of the New Jersey Congressional delegation. This resolution urges the United States Congress to pass the “Paycheck Fairness Act” in order to combat the persistent income gap that is attributable to systemic gender discrimination, provide women with more tools to achieve pay equity in the workplace, and assist the two-thirds of American families who rely on a woman’s wages as a significant portion of their income to achieve economic security. NJEA supports this resolution.
TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS AND ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THE CHILDREN OF NJ: S-1455 (Ruiz) NJEA supported this bill, which would increase the length of time to receive tenure, change the evaluation system, and send tenure cases to an arbitrator. NJEA worked closely with Senator Ruiz on this bill to make remove several provisions, including the elimination of seniority, mutual consent, and a process that would allow a principal to remove an employee’s tenure yet keep the individual employed. The bill passed the Senate 39-0 and was referred to the Assembly Budget Committee, where it was heard and reported out of committee and placed on second reading in the Assembly.
SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAM: A-2739 (Benson, Wagner) This legislation, Liam’s Law, directs the State Board of Education to promulgate regulations requiring school districts to develop a plan to establish stability in special education programming, particularly when it comes to location of service, curriculum and staffing. This legislation was released from the Assembly 73-3-2, and has been referred to the Senate Education Committee. NJEA supports this bill.
TASK FORCE ON IMPROVING SPECIAL EDUCATION FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS: S-600 (Beck, Ruiz) This bill would establish a task force to study issues related to improving funding and delivery of appropriate and cost-effective special education programs and services for public students. NJEA, which served on a similar task force under Governor Corzine, would hold one of the 17 seats. NJEA supports the bill, which has been referred to the Assembly Education Committee.
TEACHING LICENSE FOR MILITARY SPOUSE: A-2892 (Diegnan, Burzichelli, Tucker, Wisniewski) The bill would allow spouses of members of the military who are assigned duty in New Jersey to receive a temporary teaching license. The bill is part of a larger package of bills to help military spouses. NJEA sought amendments on the bill, asking that it mirror the requirements currently in code. The bill passed the Assembly 78-0 and has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.
“HOOKED ON FISHING – NOT ON DRUGS:” S178/A638 (Connors, Rumpf, Gove, Albano) has passed both Houses of the Legislature and is on its way to the Governor’s desk. This legislation will establish a statewide program from the Division of Fish and Wildlife that will provide children with a constructive alternative to using drugs by offering opportunities to appreciate the outdoors and learn about fishing. The money will come from fines collected from convicted drug offenders, not taxpayer dollars. NJEA supported this bill.