There is so much information out there, so much to learn, so much to help us become enriched in knowledge as students to be able to shape what decisions we make in the future.

There are two pieces of legislation that were advanced at the Statehouse in Trenton that is related to information, schools, and education.

A bill sponsored by State Senator Michael Testa would help students separate fact from fiction and help them get information from the proper sources as well as ensure they aren't diving into any misleading or deceptive content.

Senator Testa’s legislation, S-588, would have the State Board of Education adopt New Jersey Student Learning Standards in the separate content area of Information Literacy.

“The Internet can be an invaluable resource for students at every grade level, but it can also be rife with misinterpretations, lies, and rumors that can be confusing or even dangerous,” Senator Testa said in a written statement. “The new standards will help develop young residents who can recognize false claims and have the skills to succeed in a web-driven world.”

Senator Testa said that the Information Literacy content area would include: teaching students about the research process and how information is created and produced, critical thinking and using information resources, research methods including the difference between primary and secondary sources, differentiating between facts, points of view and opinions, accessing peer-reviewed print and digital library resources, the economic, legal and social issues surrounding the use of information, and the ethical production of information.

“We know that data found online can be misleading and manipulative. There is no accountability, so it is crucial for students to learn to verify material and use it effectively,” Senator Testa said. “The emphasis on information literacy will allow children to search efficiently, determine the legitimacy of those online sources, and make the most of their time on the computer.”

It would be a committee convened by the State board of education that would develop standards for this content area, Senator Testa explained, comprised of school library media specialists, teachers, and Department of Education personnel.

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There is a separate piece of bi-partisan legislation sponsored by State Senator Steve Oroho (R-24) and Senator Linda Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex), called The Manufacturing in Higher Education Act (S-659) which would help students establish a manufacturing career path in the county colleges and vocational schools.

“Manufacturers across the state are thriving, but a shortage of qualified, ready-to-work candidates is slowing growth. The industry is ready to hire, and they need help meeting the demand for skilled, capable employees. This bill will introduce a new generation of workers to promising career opportunities and help fill jobs," Senator Oroho said in a written statement. "Too few young people today still consider manufacturing as a viable career option, but they would be missing out on stable, potentially lucrative, long-term employment in a field that is growing anew. This pathway program we’re creating has life-changing potential for students who capitalize on the training and available jobs.”

Under this bill, the Senators explained that the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development would be required to support the implementation of the manufacturing career pathway, in consultation with the Secretary of Higher Education, the Commissioner of Education, the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, the New Jersey Council of County Vocational Schools, and representatives of the business community to be offered through the New Jersey Pathways to Career Opportunities Initiative operated by the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce Development and the program would include learning how to operate machinery, technology, tools, and other equipment.

“Manufacturing is one of the fastest-growing industries in New Jersey, and the last few years have underscored how critical this industry is,” Senator Greenstein said in a written statement. “As the industry continues to grow, it is imperative that we ensure that the individuals looking to pursue a manufacturing career are learning the technical skills necessary for them to be prepared for their future. This bill would provide a viable path forward for aspiring manufacturers within our State, filling the skill gaps for employers and expanding these kinds of opportunities in our state.”

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