Philosophy of Education Mission Statement
Free public education for all children is a cornerstone of a democratic society that values the worth and dignity of each individual. The primary goal of this Board of Education shall be to offer each child in this district the educational opportunity that will enable him/her to function politically, economically, and socially in that democratic society.
The Board, as the agent responsible for the education of the children of the district, will provide a planned program of learning that incorporates into its curriculum the lessons and experiences, within and without the classroom, needed to realize the educational goals of this district. The Board appreciates the need for constant improvement of the instructional program and will strive unremittingly to provide an educational system that assists each pupil in becoming a self- respecting individual who can function effectively and satisfyingly.
It is the expectation of the Vernon Township School District that all pupils achieve the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards at all grade levels.
The Board will seek out and work cooperatively with the available resources of home and community including business and industry, in the improvement of the educational program.
The Board will endeavor to employ a high caliber, well-prepared staff of adequate size and wide- ranging abilities. Moreover, the Board will provide pupils and staff, as needs dictate and means permit, with adequate educational supplies, equipment, and facilities.
The purpose of education in the schools of this district is to facilitate the development of each child to his/her greatest potential. The school staff shall recognize individual differences among pupils and encourage their achievement and progress, not only in basic skills but in the ability to think independently and critically. The school staff shall help pupils to understand our democratic society; to believe in it and to act fairly in their relationships with others; to develop in themselves attitudes of respect and helpfulness toward others; to want, and to be able to perform well, some portion of the work of the world; to acquire knowledge and skills necessary to do this with satisfaction to themselves and society; to understand and use effective methods in framing the questions and tackling the problems that they encounter in their lives to the end that they may function politically, economically, and socially in a democratic society.
Adopted: April 21, 2005
Revised: July 2008
The Board of Education will provide the instruction and services mandated by law and rules as necessary for the implementation of a thorough and efficient system of free public education and such other instruction and services as the Board deems appropriate for the thorough and efficient education of the students of this district. The Board shall annually approve a list of all programs and courses that comprise the district’s curriculum and shall approve any subsequent changes in the curriculum in accordance with Policy 2220.
For purposes of this policy “curriculum” means planned learning opportunities designed to assist students toward the achievement of the intended outcomes of instruction.
The curriculum will be reviewed by the Superintendent and approved annually by the Board. In accordance with law, the curriculum shall, as a minimum, include the curricular mandates of N.J.S.A. 18A – Education and N.J.A.C. 6 and 6A – Education and all of the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards and Cumulative Progress indicators and the courses required by Policy 5460 and N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5 for high school graduation.
The Superintendent is responsible for implementing the curriculum approved by the Board.
The Board directs the curriculum be consistent with the educational goals and objectives of this district, the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards and responsive to identified student needs. The Superintendent shall, in consultation with teaching staff members, assure the effective articulation of curriculum across all grade levels and among the schools of this district.
The curriculum shall provide programs in accordance with Board policies and the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards, including but not limited to:
- Preparation of all students for employment or post secondary study upon graduation from high school;
- Instruction in workplace readiness skills, visual and performing arts, comprehensive health and physical education, language arts literacy, mathematics, science, social studies (including instruction on the Constitution of the United States, United States history, Community Civics, and the geography, history and civics of New Jersey), and World Languages;
- Continuous access to sufficient programs and services of a library/media facility, classroom collection, or both, to support the educational program of all students in accordance with Policy 2530;
- Guidance and counseling to assist in career and academic planning for all students, in accordance with Policy 2411;
- A continuum of educational programs and services for all children with disabilities, in accordance with Policy and Regulation 2460;
- Bilingual education, English as a Second Language, and English language services for students of limited English language proficiency, when the number of such students so necessitates, in accordance with Policy 2423;
- Programs and services for students at risk who require remedial assistance in accordance with Policies 2414, 2415, and 5460;
- Equal educational opportunity for all students in accordance with Policies 2260, 5750, and 5755;
- Career awareness and exploration as required, and vocational education as appropriate;
- Educational opportunities for students with exceptional abilities, in accordance with Policy 2464;
- Instruction in accident and fire prevention;
- A substance abuse prevention program;
- A program for family life education; and
- Programs that encourage the active involvement of representatives from the community, business, industry, labor and higher education in the development of educational programs aligned with the standards.
N.J.S.A 18A:6-2; 18A:6-3, 18A:35-1 ET SEQ.
N.J.A.C. 6A:8-1.1 ET SEQ.; 6A:14 ET SEQ.
New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards
Adopted: December 2016
The Board of Education is committed to the continuing improvement of the educational program of the district. To this end, the curriculum shall be evaluated and modified in accordance with a plan for curriculum development.
As educational leader of the district, the Superintendent shall be responsible to the Board for the development of curriculum and shall establish procedures for curriculum development that ensure the effective participation of teaching staff members, pupils, the community, and members of the Board.
The Superintendent may conduct experimental programs that are not part of the duly adopted curriculum and are deemed to be necessary to the continuing growth of the instructional program; he/she shall report to the Board any such pilot program conducted, along with its objectives, evaluative criteria, and costs, before each such program is initiated.
The Superintendent shall report to the Board periodically on all progress in curriculum development.
Adopted: 21 April 2005
The Board of Education directs the preparation of a guide for each approved course of study in order to direct and assist teaching staff members toward the attainment of goals addressed by that course.
Each course guide will contain, as appropriate to the course of study, content standards; objectives, concepts, and skills to be taught; attitudes and appreciations to be developed; suggested activities designed to achieve the objectives; suggested methods of instruction; performance indicators; evaluation criteria intended to test the extent to which learning objectives have been achieved; and a reading list of supplemental titles for the guidance of teachers.
The course guides will be the basic instructional tool for each course of study.
No teacher shall be expected to implement every suggestion made in the guide, nor shall the guide constrain a teacher from the use of ingenuity in meeting the objectives of the guide, subject to the review of the Superintendent.
The Superintendent shall be responsible for the preparation of course guides, and shall develop a plan for such preparation that includes the participation of appropriate staff members and resource personnel; the participation of members of the community; the participation of pupils at appropriate grade levels; continuing research in instructio;nal methods, materials, and activities; systematic review of all course guides to ensure their continuing usefulness in achieving goals set by the Board; a;nd a system of administrative review to ensure that course guides are being followed by teaching staff members to the degree of conformity desired by the Board.
New course guides or revisions to existing guides shall be provided by the Superintendent to the Board for study before implementation. By this means, the Board will determine which alterations depart from existing approved courses of study so significantly as to require formal approval of the Board.
Copies of all current course guides shall be kept on file in the office of the Principal of each school.
Adopted: 21 April 2005
The Board of Education believes that the consideration of controversial issues has a legitimate place in the instructional program of the schools. Properly introduced and conducted, the consideration of such issues can help pupils learn to identify important issues, explore fully and fairly all sides of an issue, weigh carefully the values and factors involved, and develop techniques for formulating and evaluating positions.
For purposes of this policy a controversial issue is a topic subject to interpretation as obscene, profane, doctrinaire, or grossly inappropriate, each in relation to the level of maturity of the pupils concerned.
The Board will permit the introduction and proper educational use of controversial issues provided that their use in the instructional program is related to the instructional goals of the course of study and level of maturity of the pupils. The discussion of controversial issues must not tend to indoctrinate pupils or persuade them to a particular point of view. Instead, teachers must encourage fair presentation and open-mindedness and _the free exchange of ideas in a spirit of scholarly inquiry, drawing upon information and insights from the widest feasible range of-resources.
When the consideration of controversial issues have not been specified in the course guide, the Board will permit the instructional use of only those issues that have been approved in advance by the Principal.
The discussion of controversial issues in the classroom will be conducted in an unprejudiced and dispassionate manner and cannot be allowed to disrupt the educational process. In the discussion of any issue, a teacher may express a personal opinion, provided the expression is characterized as personal opinion and does not attempt to persuade pupils to the teacher’s point of view.
The Superintendent shall assist teaching staff members- in developing a sensitivity to the occurrence of controversial issues in the context of the curriculum and developing techniques for the management of controversial issues that do not stifle a spirit of free inquiry.
Adopted: 21 April 2005
Affirmative Action Program for School and Classroom Program
The Board of Education shall provide equal and bias-free access for all pupils to all school facilities, courses, programs, activities, and services, regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, religion, disability, or socioeconomic status, by:
- Ensuring equal and barrier-free access to all school and classroom facilities;
- Attaining minority representation within each school, which approximates the district’s overall minority representation. Exact apportionment is not required, however, the ultimate goal is a reasonable plan achieving the greatest degree of racial balance, which is feasible and consistent with sound educational values and procedures;
- Utilizing a State approved English language proficiency measure on an annual basis for determining the special needs of English language learners and their progress in learning English pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:15-1.3(b);
- Utilizing bias-free multiple measures for determining the special needs of pupils with disabilities, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:14-3.4;
- Ensuring that support services, including intervention and referral services and school health services pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:16, are available to all pupils; and
- Ensuring that a pupil is not discriminated against because of a medical condition. A pupil shall not be excluded from any education program or activity because of a long-term medical condition unless a physician certifies that such exclusion is necessary. If excluded, the pupil shall be provided with equivalent and timely instruction that may include home instruction, without prejudice or penalty.
The Board of Education shall ensure that the district’s curriculum and instruction are aligned to the State’s Core Curriculum Content Standards and address the elimination of discrimination by narrowing the achievement gap, by providing equity in educational programs and by providing opportunities for pupils to interact positively with others regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, religion, disability, or socioeconomic status, by:
- Ensuring there are no differential requirements for completion of course offerings or programs of study solely on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, religion, disability, or socioeconomic status;
- Ensuring courses shall not be offered separately on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, religion, disability, or socioeconomic status;
- Portions of classes which deal exclusively with human sexuality may be conducted in separate developmentally appropriate sessions for male and female pupils, provided that the course content for such separately conducted sessions is the same.
- Reducing or preventing the underrepresentation of minority, female, and male pupils in all classes and programs including gifted and talented, accelerated, and advanced classes;
- Ensuring that schools demonstrate the inclusion of a multicultural curriculum in its instructional content, materials and methods, and that pupils understand the basic tenet of multiculturalism;
- Ensuring that African American history, as well as the history of other cultures is infused into the curriculum and taught as part of the history of the United States, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:35-1 and the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards; and
- Ensuring that instruction on the Holocaust and other acts of genocide is included in the curriculum of all elementary and secondary schools, as developmentally appropriate, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:35-28.
The Board of Education shall ensure all pupils have access to adequate and appropriate counseling services. When informing pupils about possible careers, professional or vocational opportunities, the Board shall not restrict or limit the options presented to pupils on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, religion, disability, or socioeconomic status. The district will not use tests, guidance, or counseling materials which are biased or stereotyped on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual, gender, gender identity or expression, religion, disability, or socioeconomic status.
The Board of Education shall ensure that the district’s physical education program and its athletic programs are equitable, co-educational, and do not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender, religion, disability, or socioeconomic status, as follows:
- The district shall provide separate restroom, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of gender, but such facilities provided for pupils of each gender shall be comparable;
- A school within the school district may choose to operate separate teams for both genders in one or more sports or single teams open competitively to members of both genders, so long as the athletic program as a whole provides equal opportunities for pupils of both genders to participate in sports at comparable levels of difficulty and competency; and
- The activities comprising such athletic programs shall receive equitable treatment, including, but not limited to, staff salaries, purchase of maintenance of equipment, quality and availability of facilities, scheduling of practice and game time, length of season, and all other related areas or matter.
Adopted: December 2016
Religion in the Schools
The Board of Education recognizes that religious belief and disbelief are matters of personal conviction rather than governmental authority and the pupils of this district are protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and by Article I, Paragraph 4 of the New Jersey State Constitution from the establishment of religion in the schools. School officials will be neutral in their treatment of religion in the school district, showing neither favoritism toward nor hostility against religious expression. Accordingly, devotional exercises will be permitted in this district. The following activities will be permitted in the school district provided the activity is consistent with current United States Supreme Court decisions regarding the relationship between government and religion: prayer during instructional time; organized prayer groups and activities; religious expression and prayer in classroom assignments; student assemblies and extra curricular events; prayer at graduation; baccalaureate ceremonies; devotional exercises; and other prayer and/or religion related activities. The school district will not permit an activity if the activity advances or inhibits any particular religious expression that is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The Board believes that an understanding of religions and the contributions that religion has made to the advancement of civilization is essential to the thorough education of young people and to their appreciation of a pluralistic society. To that end, the curriculum may be developed to include, as appropriate to the various ages and attainments of the pupils, instruction about the religions of the world.
The Board also acknowledges the degree to which a religious consciousness has enriched the arts, literature, music, and issues of morality. The instructional and resource materials approved for use in the schools of this district frequently contain religious references or concern moral issues that have traditionally been the focus of religious concern. That such materials may, therefore, be religious in nature shall not, by itself, bar their use by the district. The Board directs that teaching staff members employing such materials be neutral in their approach and avoid using them to advance or inhibit religion in any way.
The Board recognizes that religious traditions vary in their perceptions and doctrines regarding the natural world and its processes. The curriculum is chosen for its place in the thorough, and efficient education of the children of this district, not for its conformity to religious principles. Pupils should receive unbiased instruction in the schools so that they may privately accept or reject the knowledge so gained in accordance with their own religious tenets.
U.S. Consti. Amend. 1
U.S. Department of Education – Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools – February 7, 2003
N.J. Consti. (1947) Art. 1, para. 4
N.J.S.A. 18A:35-4.6 et seq.; 18A:36-16
Adopted: 18 September 2003
The Board of Education believes that each pupil should be provided with the instruction that will best suit his/her intellectual, physical, emotional, and social capabilities. The Board authorizes the Superintendent or designee to develop a schedule and class organization that will provide for the placement of pupils in instructional groups that will offer them the greatest educational benefit.
The grouping of pupils should be flexible and should take into consideration the age, mental ability, past academic record, emotional needs, physical maturity, and interests of each pupil.
Independent Study Programs
The Board of Education authorizes an independent study program aimed at achieving the Core Curriculum Content Standards for promotion and graduation purposes in accordance with the requirements of N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(a)ii.
An independent study program and appropriate assessments shall be planned for individuals and/or a group based on specific instructional objectives aimed at meeting or exceeding the Core Curriculum Content Standards. The Principal shall certify completion of the independent study program based on specific instructional objectives.
The Principal may utilize a performance or competency assessment to approve pupil completion of an independent study program, including those occurring all or in part prior to the pupil’s high school enrollment.
A group independent study program shall be approved in the same manner as other approved courses. Independent study programs shall be on file in the school district and subject to review by the Commissioner of Education or designee.
N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1 et seq.
Cross reference: Policy Guide No. 5460
Adopted: August 2008
The Board of Education acknowledges the educational validity of work assigned to pupils for completion outside .the classroom .as an adjunct to and extension of the instructional program of the schools.
The Superintendent shall develop regulations for the assignment of homework according to these guidelines:
1. Homework should be a properly planned part of the curriculum, extending and reinforcing the learning experience of the school;
2. Homework should help children learn by providing practice in the mastery of skills, experience in data gathering and integration of knowledge, and an opportunity to remediate learning problems;
3. Homework should help develop the pupil’s responsibility and provide an opportunity for the exercise of independent work and judgment;
4. The number, frequency, and degree of difficulty of homework assignments should be based on the ability and needs of the pupil and take into account other activities that make a legitimate claim on the pupil’s time;
5. As a valid educational tool, homework should be clearly assigned and its product carefully evaluated and that evaluation should be reported to the pupil;
6. The schools should recognize the role of parent(s) or legal guardian(s) by suggesting ways in which parent(s) or legal guardian(s) may assist the school in helping a child carry out assigned responsibilities;
7. Homework should always serve a valid learning purpose; it should never be used as a punitive measure.
Adopted: 21 April 2005