Press Release
Senator Tom Kean, Jr. Senator Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21)
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Contact: Jonathan Azzara / (609) 847-3600
January 28, 2021
Kean Bill Requiring Civics Classes in Middle School Clears Senate

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Legislation sponsored by Senator Tom Kean that requires civics instruction in middle school has been approved by the New Jersey Senate.

Legislation sponsored by Sen. Tom Kean that requires civics instruction in middle school was approved by the New Jersey Senate. (Pixabay)

“Civics education helps foster an understanding and appreciation of our democracy,” said Senator Kean (R-21). “All students should have the opportunity to learn about the function of government, the rights of citizens, and the values that underpin American democracy. This legislation will give students the skills and knowledge they need to actively participate in a democratic society.”

According to the New Jersey Center for Civic Education at Rutgers, only 39 percent of schools in the state voluntarily offer a civics course to all students.

Under Kean’s legislation, S-854 or “Laura Wooten’s Law,” each board of education must provide a middle school civics course beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. The new civics course must address the principles underlying the American system of democracy, the function and limitations of government, and the role of a citizen in a democratic society.

The bill also authorizes the NJ Center for Civic Education to provide curricula, professional development, and technical assistance for middle and high school civics.

S-854, also known as Laura Wooten’s Law, is named in honor of Mrs. Laura Wooten, a New Jerseyan who contributed a lifetime of civic service. Mrs. Wooten was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina and was the longest serving poll volunteer in the nation. She was an elder of the First Baptist Church of Princeton, was employed by Princeton Medical Center, and worked as a part-time staff member at Princeton University. Mrs. Wooten passed away on March 24, 2019 at the age of 98.

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