A friend of Sunlight’s sent us an excellent Tablet article by Alex Gutentag, a former teacher in Oakland, CA public schools. We urge you to read the whole piece, as it provides the perspective of a public school teacher who really wanted to teach and felt betrayed by his union and its focus on political activism rather than educating school children. The very same can be said about the NJEA and AFT in New Jersey.
Gutentag describes in detail the actions of the teachers unions during the pandemic and the baleful consequences for kids. The unions fought to keep schools closed and the school children suffered greatly, particularly minority kids. Just as it happened in New Jersey, particularly in districts like Newark, Jersey City, Paterson and Montclair.
Gutenberg traces the teachers unions anti-student mentality to a general abdication of its role in promoting education in favor of progressive political activism. Just like New Jersey, where the NJEA spends most of its money on politics — almost all of it extracted from teachers’ highest-in-the-nation dues.
Here are some choice quotes:
- Despite its rhetoric calling for racial and social justice, the National Education Association (the NJEA’s national parent) and its counterpart, the American Federation of Teachers, “inflicted profound racial and social injustice on the country’s school children in the form of extended school closures.” Just like the NJEA and AFT in New Jersey.
- These closures were “the result of a long process in which the union replaced labor-related goals … with activism …” Just like the NJEA.
- Although the NEA has “the veneer of a labor organization,” it is now “an activist arm of the Democratic Party.” Just like the NJEA, which has used 95%+ of its political spending to support Democrats (when spending on federal elections is included).
- “Since 2016, progressive leaders of the AFT and NEA have increasingly prioritized political causes …” Just like the NJEA.
- “Favoring ideological indoctrination over academic achievement fundamentally devalues teaching and learning.” Think about this statement. We are talking about teachers unions.
- “Fealty to the Democratic Party … not labor principles or educational concerns … currently drives the union’s actions.” Just like the NJEA and its support for progressive policies and Democrats.
Gutentag is a former public school teacher who saw clearly the devolution of his teachers union into a political activist organization. As Sunlight has documented over the years, this is precisely what has happened in New Jersey. In New Jersey, hundreds of millions of teachers’ dues and property tax dollars have been used for political purposes. It’s a rigged system that benefits the NJEA and the (Democratic) pols it supports, not teachers, taxpayers, and school children. What a shameful system.