Let your voice be heard on New Jersey’s “Sociological Strip Search” bill

As we reported on Monday , the Assembly Education Committee approved a bill , A2421, that amends a 2001 law regarding surveys that schools can have students participate in.  The law as written and passed in 2001 requires that parents give their written consent prior to surveys being administered. The bill that amends the current law requires only parental notification. 

The proponents of the bill want to allow schools to employ a scamming tactic referred to as “negative consent.”  That’s the technique that telemarketers use when they offer you a product or service for “free” for 30 days.  If you don’t take affirmative action to cancel the “free trial” your credit card is charged monthly until you catch up with the scammers and cancel.

The current law allows students to be surveyed about the following topics, if their parents consent in writing:

(1) political affiliations;

(2) mental and psychological problems potentially embarrassing to the student or the student’s family;

(3) sexual behavior and attitudes;

(4) illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating and demeaning behavior;

(5) critical appraisals of other individuals with whom a respondent has a close family relationship;

(6) legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers;

(7) income, other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under a program; or

(8) social security number.

Evidently parents have not been consenting in sufficient numbers to satisfy those who want to use the survey results to apply for federal money and/or to design programs to address the information gathered in the surveys.   Students need written permission from their parents to go on field trips, but it is hard to get those permission slips back, the sponsors of this legislation say. It’s even harder to get parental permission for these surveys. Small wonder.

As Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, the Education Committee Chair, said during the hearing, proponents of this legislation have been trying to amend this law to allow negative consent for at least 12 years.  In order to gain passage in commitee this time they amended the bill to omit questions about political affiliations, sexual behaviors and social security numbers from being asked.  The also included a clause prohibting the results from being used for non-educational marketing purposes.

You can listen to the Assembly Education Committee’s hearing on the bill here.

Now that the bill has, after at least 12 years, successfully gotten through the Education Committee, the full Assembly gets to vote on it.  If it passes the full Assembly, it gets sent back to the Senate for the amended version to be voted on.  If it passes that process, it goes to Governor Christie for his signature, veto or conditional veto.

The Assembly’s next voting session on next Thursday, February 21st.   The board hasn’t been posted yet.  If the bill is not on the schedule for the 21st, it can also be voted on in March or any other voting session for the rest of this year.  Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver decides what bills get voted on in the Assembly.  Oliver’s contact information can be found here.

Contact information for all members of the Assembly can be found here.

MMM encourages you to let your voice be heard on this legislation and to pass this post on to all parents of school aged children in New Jersey and anyone else you think might be interested.

Posted: February 13th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Education, NJ State Legislature | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

3 Comments on “Let your voice be heard on New Jersey’s “Sociological Strip Search” bill”

  1. Politicalpony said at 1:06 pm on February 13th, 2013:

    Nj legislators think they are untouchable. They think they are immune to the fury instilling among the people. They are to the point in which they believe they can continue their march to socialism now through force. Speak to them and treat them with contempt. For this is their view of us. They have no respect for the people or their constitution. Therefore the deserve none. Care less if they should be insulted. Care less of what they think of us. Fore their view of us is already of enslaved leaves in which they think they should be in rule of. I say a complete recall of all Nj Legislators is whats needed. Successful or not, send a very loud extreme message to all who would apposed the constitution and our Bill Of Rights. Enough, the line must be drawn here! No more! No Further!

  2. Isn't there any way said at 4:10 pm on February 13th, 2013:

    we could pay them to NOT show up and impose their social engineering ways onto us? That I would vote for. They have to be told to stop!

  3. Carolee Adams, President, Eagle Forum of New Jersey said at 4:42 pm on February 16th, 2013:

    Making a Good Bill Bad
    The Question is: Why?

    In 2001, former NJ State Assemblyman Scott Garrett (now Congressman R-5) and State Senator Gerald Cardinale (R-39) worked with Eagle Forum of New Jersey, Ridgewood parents, and others to stop nosy, intrusive student surveying of their children without “written, informed, parental consent”. That meant a parent had to, not only be “notified” of such surveys that could be administered to their children, but to be able to review that survey in advance and signify, in writing, with their signature, if they approved or not. It’s as simple as that – akin to a parent giving written consent for a school trip after being satisfactorily advised about the complete details of that trip.

    However, over and over again since the 2002-3 legislative session, state legislators have sought to remove “written, informed, parental consent” from the exceptional language used in the 2001 Bill reverting back to only “notification”. “Notification” only used pre-2001 was the reason why “written, informed, parental consent“ was sought! Ridgewood parents claimed they never received “notification”; would never have signed off on such a survey had they been able to review it; and they justifiably sued – twice – and won based upon violations of a student’s rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and even Fourteenth Amendments.

    In testimony, among many other factors presented in writing, I reminded Assembly Education committee members of those historic suits, and how costly to local Boards of Education and the State should a parent claim s/he did not receive notification and, consequently, did not grant express written permission. Even though one Assemblyman claimed how he wanted more “proactive” parental involvement, all but one Committee member was, obviously, foolishly satisfied or unconcerned with the sponsors’ assurance of “notification” only.

    Further, and not publicly aired, in private conversation with one Republican Assembly member of the committee, an aid commented to me that Municipal Alliances favored the Bill; they needed money for their drug/alcohol abuse programs, etc. When I responded: “Do you mean you would disrespect parental rights and sacrifice a student’s privacy for money,” she and her Assembly member walked away from me prior to a vote of “yes” to approve the Bill and move it out of Committee. Only Assemblyman Scott Rumana voted “No”.

    This sociological strip search has now been amended so that it will, supposedly, not be used for marketing or other commercial purposes unrelated to education or include sexual behavior or attitudes. However, the Bill and its amendments, in addition to removing written parental consent, does NOT eliminate:
    -questions about guns in homes nor questions that, in the past, could actually incriminate a student by his admittance of illegal drug use;
    -does not account for students’ lying on surveys that a Ridgewood psychiatrist had attested to occurring in the past nor recall a breach of anonymity where teachers were able to decipher who completed the survey;
    -does not consider how such surveying can lead young, impressionable students to question their own behavior/lack of drug and alcohol use in comparison to others who do.

    In the past, the results of such surveys led to referrals and/or programs such as Columbia University’s Teen Screen, a controversial, so-called “diagnostic psychiatric service”, a/k/a suicide survey, done on children who are then referred to psychiatric treatment or programs within a school setting. The evidence suggests that the objective of the psychiatrists who designed TeenScreen was to place children so selected on psychotropic drugs. Last year, Teen Screen ceased operation following increasing scrutiny about its methods and affiliations. Dr. Marcia Angell, physician, and author, “The Truth About Drug Companies”, is the first woman to serve as editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine; was honored by Time Magazine as one of America’s most influential Americans; and is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Describing such programs, Dr. Angell stated: “It’s just a way to put more people on prescription drugs.” She said such programs would boost the sale of antidepressants even after the FDA ordered a “black box” label warning that the pills might spur suicidal thoughts or violent actions in minors. Note: New Jersey’s A2421/S454, does not preclude questions about suicide, either.

    The bottom line to those who support A2421/S454 is money. The bottom line to those who oppose this legislation is to continue to protect a student’s right to privacy from such a sociological strip search, and ensure parental approval via the original language – not merely “notification” – but “written, informed, parental consent”.

    Now is the time to contact your State Assembly representatives and Governor Christie to ask them to oppose A2421/S454. Governor Christie may have the opportunity to encourage members of his party to vote “No” and, should the Bill come before him if it passes the Assembly, to Veto the legislation in its entirety. A conditional Veto is not acceptable.