Republican lawmakers say they're appalled by recent comments from the Murphy Administration that point to potential discipline for school districts that do not comply with New Jersey's updated learning standards for sex education.

In response to conversations with school districts and a statement from the New Jersey Department of Education, 13th district Assembly members Gerry Scharfenberger and Vicky Flynn suggested the state is wasting resources on threatening and/or disciplining districts, at a time when additional energy should be spent on punishing criminals and more pressing education issues.

"This is just another example of the state ignoring the real issues impacting NJ residents. Even the car theft crime wave ravishing communities all over the state continues to be ignored by the governor," Flynn said. "While the governor seeks to raise his national profile, he is ignoring the problems here at home by being soft on crime, even when that crime hits close to home."

Implementing the updated standards, Flynn added, is an unnecessary burden on New Jersey school districts that should be focused on rectifying learning loss caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The new standards represent the minimum that districts must teach their students over the course of a grade level. Individual districts can choose how those lessons are taught.

In a statement sent to New Jersey 101.5 on Thursday, the Department of Education noted that the state's learning standards are mandatory, and that failure to comply can result in disciplinary action. The potential for disciplinary action isn't new, but lawmakers didn't take the reconfirmation lightly.

"The fact that this administration is more concerned about children being taught over-sexualized, explicit materials than with changing bail reform or protecting residents and families speaks volumes," Scharfenberger said. "This void in priorities has very real-world implications on the residents of New Jersey."

Most of New Jersey's districts have complied with the updates. The DOE says parents who do not want their children participating in certain classes must inform the school principal in writing that such instruction conflicts with their personal values and beliefs.

Districts are monitored for their compliance with standards. A district that scores below 80% in any areas are required to create a plan to address the issues, before "additional monitoring or intervention is warranted," DOE said.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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