Most teachers just want to teach, but the NJEA has made very clear it believes “teaching is political,” and continues to put its money where its mouth is by training teachers to become local political activists for a progressive agenda.
In the summer of 2022, Sunlight documented how the NJEA was training teachers to push for truly radical education policies at their local school boards, offering tactical advice and draft school board resolutions. Sunlight was shocked to find that the curricula proposed by the NJEA’s trainers’ (the Radical Pedagogy Institute) were as radical and controversial as the NJEA’s worst detractors claimed.
When parents across the state pushed back, the NJEA labeled them “extremists” in TV ads and pushed NJEA locals to run candidates for school board to fight against these parents. After strong public reaction, the NJEA tried to publicly walk back its actions but still spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to defeat parent slates in last fall’s school board elections.
Now the NJEA is at it again, trying to enlist and train teachers in local political activism to inject progressive ideology into school curricula and the student body. This January, the NJEA is offering an “Equity Alliance Conference” that will feature “training on social justice issues and social justice activism.” Here are some of the offerings (Emphasis added):
- Community Cultural Wealth: “To disrupt the dominant culture narratives …” focusing on “aspirational capital, linguistic capital, navigational capital and resistance capital of students.”
- Community Organizing: “How do we begin to build and sustain relationships within our communities and grow our collective power for justice and equity?”
- Humanize to Healing: “We live is [sic] racist, sexist, classist, oppressive systems that operate in ways that harm and dehumanize us.” Teachers are to “liberate ourselves through practices of breathing and movement.”
- Inter-generational Organizing: include Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z in political organizing efforts.
- Issues-based Organizing: “how to organize around a local issue toward strategic victories … Participants will reflect and prepare an organizing action plan to map your pathway to victory.”
- Power of the Pen Writing Circles: Teachers will advance “our movement for racial literacy, equity and affirmation …” and “deepen your curriculum, write a compelling op-ed, craft equity-driven policies …”
- Racial Literacy Circles: “As public school educators, we have a commitment to building a more just and racially literate world for our students …” Teachers will seek to “ignite some critical dialogue around issues of racial and social justice.”
So the NJEA is once again pushing teachers into local politics and seeking to mobilize them as activists to propagate progressive ideology in their schools and students.
But what about teaching math and reading? What about remediation for all the learning loss that occurred due to NJEA-backed school closures? Apparently, the NJEA would rather have teachers pushing progressive ideology.
We will borrow from NJEdReport and quote Sharif El-Mekki, CEO of the Center for Black Educator Development:
“I want to be clear: Far too many of our children can’t read or do math. Observing this fact and finding it unacceptable is not racist. Indeed, to excuse it away with some virtue-signaling waving of hands is racist.”
After the substantial, COVID-related learning loss, New Jersey students need the “three Rs” not progressive ideology. Most New Jersey teachers prefer to teach, not play politics or push a progressive agenda. But our state’s largest teachers union believes teaching is political.