New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation (S854) into law today. The bipartisan sponsored bill titled Laura Wooten’s Law requires civic instruction to be taught in middle school.
The New Jersey Center for Civic Education at Rutgers University will be in charge of creating the curriculum to be taught to middle and high school students starting in the 2022-2023 school year. The curriculum will teach the values and principles underlying the American system of constitutional democracy, the function of government, and the role of a citizen in a democratic society.
The primary sponsor of the bill, Democratic Senator Shirley Turner, recognized the lack of civic education in the country as a crisis.
“Safeguarding our democracy is now more urgent than ever, and one of the best ways we can do that is by teaching our future generations about the importance of civic skills, engagement, and participation and the value of a democratic process. The lack of civics knowledge creates a challenge to maintaining a perfect union, establishing justice, and ensuring domestic tranquility. We must learn to work together for the good of all of our communities and begin to bridge the deep political divide that exists in this country,” Senator Turner said.
Governor Murphy, who recognized his father as being his civics teacher, was ecstatic to sign the bill while reflecting on his childhood.
“An understanding of civics strengthens our democracy by ensuring an understanding of the role that everyone plays in the future of their community, our state, and our nation. I am proud to sign this bill into law and honor Laura Wooten’s incredible civic legacy,” Governor Murphy said.
Laura Wooten was America’s longest-serving poll worker before passing away in 2019. Laura held 79 years of service under her belt, her daughter Yvonne Hill was there to celebrate the signing of the bill.
“She always felt that the youth should be involved in exercising the hard-fought right to vote and help make change. Her famous words were ‘Don’t say you can’t make a difference. How can you make a difference if you don’t vote?” Hill said.
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