Roundup: Curriculum in state education policy
Sex ed and mental health are two of the top subjects up for debate in state legislatures. Education Dive has updates on each proposal.
This article is the first of a biweekly roundup that outlines curriculum-related state education policy news.
During the past few weeks, legislators in multiple states have proposed and debated curriculum-related measures. Here's a list of the most notable bills, listed by topic, along with their most recent updates:
- A Utah bill that would clarify sex education, allowing instructors to "include information about the medical characteristics, effectiveness, limitations, and risks of contraceptive methods or devices," passed a state Senate committee on March 4. The bill passed in the House of Representatives on Feb. 26.
- A controversial Colorado bill, which would make changes to the state's sex education curriculum, has passed the House of Representatives and will go to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Instead of just teaching an abstinence-based program, sex education lessons would have to also focus on other contraceptive methods and gay and lesbian issues. Students would also be allowed to opt out of the course, according to the bill.
- Texas state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, filed a bill that would mandate the state's education commissioner to check whether the sex education curriculum complies with state law, as well as require districts to send parents a copy of that curriculum.
- A sex education bill in the Washington legislature was introduced to the state House of Representatives on March 1 after passing the Senate. The proposal would ensure that public schools use an "evidence-informed, medically and scientifically accurate, age-appropriate and inclusive" curriculum that includes abstinence, encourages healthy relationships, and teaches students to identify and respond to sexual violence.
- An omnibus school safety bill passed the K-12 Education Committee in the North Carolina House of Representatives on Feb. 27. The bill, among other things, would mandate that public schools conduct at least one intruder drill each year, direct districts to create threat assessment teams for schools, and establish training requirements for school resource officers.
- A bipartisan New Jersey bill, which aims to require school districts to teach students about mental health as part of their health education unit, passed the Senate Education Committee on March 4.
- An Iowa State Senate bill, which would mandate mental health awareness, coping skills and suicide prevention as part of the health curriculum, is up for consideration in an education subcommittee.
- A bill that would mandate K-12 students to study civics is up for debate in the North Carolina House of Representatives.
- Nebraska is also considering a measure involving mandatory civics education. The proposal, which advanced on Feb. 26 after legislators ended a filibuster, would revamp and increase civics education, as well as replace some of the current language in state law. Instead of calling for teaching students a "love of liberty, justice, democracy, and America," the measure moves to push for students to become "competent, responsible, patriotic and civic citizens.”
- After passing the state's Senate Education Committee, the Oregon State Senate will consider a proposal to require public school districts to provide instruction on the Holocaust and genocide.
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