NJEA President/Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller penned an op-ed in the Star-Ledger today in an obvious attempt to reshape the NJEA’s image after the broad pushback against its anti-parent ad campaign. Several themes are worth noting.
First, the NJEA is now all about the parents. After the NJEA was forced into a public walk-back from its TV ads calling parents who dare to speak up at school board meetings “extremists,” Spiller now speaks of a “partnership with parents” and uses the word “parent” or “parents” ten times. In its monthly publication NJEA Review, the NJEA now sees the bad guys as “politicians or community leaders” but not parents.
But these are just words. The reality is that the NJEA provides teachers with a “reporting tool” and urges them to inform on “bad actors” – mainly parents – who are pushing back against the NJEA’s agenda at local school board meetings, so the NJEA can investigate them. The NJEA wants to pretend that these aren’t parents but they are. The NJEA is also pushing teachers to run school board candidates against parents who are trying to gain more control over their kids’ education. When it comes to parents, the NJEA’s actions belie its words.
Also with an eye towards parents, Spiller is all about the “children,” too: the op-ed’s title talks about giving them “a deep, well-rounded education.” But again, these are just words. The reality is that the disastrous NAEP test results showed that children suffered massive learning loss as a result of school closures that both the NJEA and its parent, the NEA, supported. We ask Mayor Spiller: what about the children of Montclair whose schools remained closed long after most districts had reopened? What about your acquiescence to those extended closures as demanded by the Montclair Education Association? You would like parents to forget about that.
Second, in an Orwellian twist, Spiller declares the NJEA to be on the side of “truth” and “honesty” while the NJEA’s opponents are “dishonest.” Those who are concerned about the state’s sex ed standards – mainly parents – are labelled as a “small,” “mean-spirited” group, despite the fact that nationwide a majority of public school parents do not trust public schools to teach about gender and sexuality. Spiller claims that the NJEA is “teaching children the truth,” but how does that square with the NJEA having an organization like the Radical Pedagogy Institute train teachers to push radical curricula at the school district level? Recall that RPI’s curriculum choices include teaching first-graders about transgenderism and that Lincoln’s emancipation of slaves is a “myth.” Is this the “truth” to be taught to our youngest schoolchildren, President Spiller?
By claiming to be on the side of “truth” and “honesty,” Spiller is really just trying to shut down debate and delegitimize the – mainly parent – opposition. That’s not pro-parent no matter what Spiller says in his op-ed.