A bill made it through the New Jersey General Assembly on Thursday, requiring schools to teach kids how to interact with police “in a manner marked by mutual cooperation and respect.”
Because this is what the world has come to—though I wonder if the assembly realizes that “mutual” means that it’s not solely up to the kids to build said cooperation and respect. But I digress.
Assembly Bill A1114 passed unanimously, 76-0, according to NBC News, and will now make its way to the Senate.
The bill mandates that school districts begin teaching kids how to talk to law enforcement officers, starting in kindergarten, and the instruction would continue as part of the social studies curriculum all the way through grade 12.
If signed into law, the program could begin in state schools as early as 2018.
As NBC notes, when the bill was introduced in 2016, it faced criticism from those who thought it placed the onus for positive police interactions on kids (which, let’s be real, it seems to do), requiring that the children be taught “the role and responsibilities of a law enforcement official in providing for public safety; and an individual’s responsibilities to comply with a directive from a law enforcement official.” An amended version of the bill now includes a directive that children also be taught about “an individual’s rights under law in interacting with a law enforcement official.”
The amended version also mandates that the state Department of Education work with an advisory committee in order to create the curriculum.
Still, some activists are not convinced.
“This legislation does not empower young people, especially those living in brown and black communities,” New Jersey-based teacher and activist Zellie Imani told the network. “Instead, it empowers law enforcement by allowing them to continue to evade accountability for abuse and misconduct while forcing the burden on the public.”
However, the bill’s primary sponsor, Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, insists that it is about preparing kids.
“This is a lesson many parents already teach to their children,” Oliver said, referring to police interaction. “Making it part of the school curriculum is the next logical step.”
Read more at NBC News.