It's an age old question and response:

Parent: What happened at school today?

Child: Not much.

New Jersey State Senator Joe Pennacchio explains that parents now know more about what goes on in a school day thanks to digital learning during the pandemic and feels that many mom's and dad's out there hearing and seeing certain lessons be taught and issues get discussed has raised a red flag.

Senator Pennacchio introduced two bills in June that he hopes nears passage in the not too distant future in New Jersey, both aimed at transparency for parents so they can know what's going on the classrooms.

“Parents don’t want to be surprised when their child comes home and tells them what happened in school,” Pennacchio (R-26) said in a Thursday statement. “They don’t want decisions about education and curriculum being made in darkness and relative secrecy. They want to be part of the discussion, they want their voices heard, and they deserve no less.”

It led to Senator Pennacchio introducing the two bills.

One of which, (S-4014), Pennachio said, would mandate boards of education be more open and release what will be discussed and when with regards to meeting schedules and agendas.

With this first bill, BOE's would have to post agendas, which must include a detailed description of what will be discussed, on their website 48-hours before the meeting.

“Increasing transparency will allow parents to follow the boards’ plans and gives them enough time to come out to public meetings when something doesn’t sit just right,” Pennacchio said. “No longer will boards be able to enact policies when no one is looking.”

The other piece of legislation, (S-3875) would require that public schools make curriculum plans available to parents/guardians and the public so they have time to go over the plans and look over what textbooks and material their children will be learning on/from during the school year.

With this second bill, in addition to a goal of transparency, Pennacchio seeks to also ensure that each school district posts the curriculum plans at least 30-days before the school year begins to give parents enough time to review them.

“Board members and the schools work for the taxpayers and parents, not the other way around. Many New Jersey residents have grown dubious of the policies being forced on their kids and the motivations behind the policies. These bills will make it easier for parents to find out what’s going on and to get the answers they need," Pennacchio said. “Parents want more say in what their youngsters are being taught. Unlocking the curriculum for parental review will help foster cooperation between teachers and families and could encourage more parents to be active participants in the education of their children.”

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