HEART seeks to increase compliance with humane and character education laws currently in existence in New York State, as well as throughout the nation. In New York, these laws include:
Section 809 of the Education Law, which requires publicly-funded elementary schools to provide instruction on the humane treatment and protection of animals.
Project SAVE (Safe Schools Against Violence in Education) legislation, which calls for instruction in character education in grades K through 12.
HEART has focused its humane education advocacy efforts in the New York City Council and the New York State legislature to help strengthen enforcement of humane education mandates. HEART has directed its energy on the following activities and will continue to advocate for the incorporation of humane education in NY schools.
- We were instrumental in drafting, and helping to garner the support of 42 of 51 NYC Council Members, for Tony Avella’s Resolution 497, which calls on the NYC DOE to notify all schools to comply with the humane education mandate in Section 809 of the NYS Education Law. While this resolution was eventually tabled at a vote, the Council did pass another resolution (Res. 1541) we supported that was an outgrowth of Resolution 497. Res. 1541 calls on the NYC DOE to survey schools for non-compliance with various curricular mandates in the state education law, including instruction in the humane treatment of animals, and to assist schools that are not in compliance to fully comply.
- We secured support from NYS Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh to sponsor A. 5861, which would amend Sections 809 and 1004 of the NYS Education Law to include a two-hour teacher training certification requirement in humane education, a notification provision from the State Department of Education about Section 809, and a provision authorizing grants to teachers for costs incurred with training.
- HEART secured the support of NYS Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal to sponsor A. 518, which would expand the humane education mandate in Section 809 to middle schools and high schools, instead of just elementary schools, supporting mandatory humane education instruction at all grade levels.
- We also secured NYS A.M. Ronsenthal’s support for A. 724, which would require an audit of state schools to determine compliance with Section 809 and an annual report to the governor and legislature.