As the state finished off a slaughter of animals, it is now allowing students to abstein from doing so.
The bill would require schools to provide alternative education projects for pupils in kindergarten through 12th grade who choose not to participate in dissecting or capturing an animal or experimenting on it. The students would not be penalized with a lower grade.
Under the bill, an alternative project could include the use of videotapes, models, films, books, computers, “or any other tools which provide an alternative method for obtaining and testing the knowledge…”
Schools would be required to notify students and their parents at the beginning of each school year of the right to decline to participate. Within two weeks of the receipt of the notice, pupils or their parents would have to notify the school if they want an alternative lesson.
Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May) is a co-sponsor of the legislation. He said virtually all legislators receive complaints from students or their parents about the requirement to dissect animals when they do not need the experience to further their education or feel they can learn the lesson another way. He said some students object for religious reasons or dislike dissecting a cat, for example, when they have one at home.
“They feel why sacrifice an animal when they feel they are not learning much and will not major in biology,” Van Drew said.
John Zlock, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, said there is nothing in science or biology curriculum standards that mandate a student dissect an animal. He said dissecting is encouraged as a practice but some schools do offer alternatives.
The measure (A2233) now moves to the Senate for consideration.
My opinion after the break….