NJEA spokesman Steve Baker made some notably defensive comments about the NJEA’s ad campaign to NorthJersey.com. The NJEA appears to be trying to reshape its messaging after the pushback against its TV ads.
Baker now claims that the NJEA was not attacking parents who dared to speak up at school board meetings across the state: “Parents are never referred to in any negative or critical way.” But this flies in the face of the actual ads, one of which shows black and white photos of what are clearly upset parents speaking up at school board meetings while the ad simultaneously uses the word “extremists.” The ordinary understanding of this juxtaposition, and the understanding that most people took, was that these parents are being called extremists. Baker is now trying to walk that back.
The article goes on to describe how the NJEA promoted a two-session conference that provided 28 hours of training in political organizing by the Radical Pedagogy Institute. As Sunlight previously revealed, RPI is as radical as its name suggests. It does indeed provide lesson plans to teach about transgenderism to early elementary schoolchildren. Baker once again goes into full backpedal mode, seemingly seeking to distance the NJEA from the RPI training:
“The program was not required or funded by the NJEA, said Baker, the union’s spokesperson, and was offered to teachers as part of professional development opportunities among many others that are available throughout the school year.”
Is Baker really claiming that the NJEA put up no money at all? RPI provided two sessions: a one-day, four-hour session on June 11 and a four-day, 24-hour session from July 11 – 14, both hosted by Rutgers-Newark with coffee, pastries and snacks provided. Attendees pad $25 for the first session (we do not know how many attended) and 20 teachers paid $150 each for the second. Did that $3,000 pay for all 24 hours of RPI training? Did Rutgers-Newark provide the facilities for free? Who paid for the food? Did the NJEA’s promotion of the sessions cost nothing? Something doesn’t add up here, and Baker should explain who paid for all this.
And does training in political organizing truly count as professional development (PD) for teachers? The Department of Education describes professional development as:
“Educators engage in sustained professional learning to refine and expand their practice to help students perform at higher levels.”
Can Baker please explain how training teachers in political organizing meets the DOE’s PD guidelines?
Furthermore, do the 24 hours of training in political organizing count towards the requirement that every teacher undergo 20 hours of professional development every year?
Finally, if the RPI conference counts as professional development, why were the sessions not on the NJEA’s professional learning “events” calendar for June or July? And a perusal of the NJEA’s PD offerings indicates that a stand-alone, four-day conference on political organizing is both qualitatively and quantitatively different from other PD offerings, which deal with subjects like online instruction.
So we would ask Baker if RPI’s training truly counts as PD.
By claiming that the NJEA did not fund the RPI training and describing it as routine professional development, is Baker distancing the NJEA from the RPI training sessions or downplaying their significance? Sure seems like it.
Maybe some enterprising reporter could follow up with Baker and find out.