Derrell Bradford captures the situation in Montclair perfectly in his excellent piece for Eduction Next, “A Rolling Teacher Strike Is Why Schools Are Closed.” With NJEA VP Sean Spiller as a mayor who can appoint the school board, the teacher union’s influence does indeed reach three sides of the bargaining table.
The real-world impact of this can be seen in the school reopening dispute. NJEA VP/Montclair Mayor Spiller has publicly taken the NJEA’s position that the only way to reopen schools safely is for all teachers to be vaccinated. But that could mean that Montclair schools do not reopen before the end of the school year.
Spiller’s siding with his union has emboldened the MEA to take a hard line, resulting in schools remaining closed while the MEA and the superintendent fight it out in court. After being out of school since last March, Montclair parents and kids who want to return to school are forced to wait even longer. Spiller’s conflict of interest must seem intolerable to them.