Twitter is no fair representative of public sentiment but my feed is suddenly clogged by New Jersey residents appalled by news that the New Jersey Education Association’s new PR and recruiting arm, the “NJEA Center for Honesty in Education,” is partnering with ultra-progressive NJ Working Families Alliance to offer a School Board Candidate Training Program.
What’s wrong with that? Sounds pretty innocent. We need all the informed school board members we can get, right?
Not according to a number of parents and residents, who point to this section of NJEA’s website that cites the new State health standards:
Resolutions opposing the state sex-ed standards are being promoted at board meetings by out-of-district bad actors. Hate speech is increasingly more public at these meetings. We encourage all local associations to create a board watch program to monitor policies and prepare to organize against disinformation and hate to defend our communities. Please continue to use the reporting tool at www.centerforhonesty.org to help keep your colleagues across the state informed of emerging threats and ensure that the Center is able to monitor disinformation actors around the state.
Whoa! A “Board Watch Program”? As a former school board member, that sounds sort of KGB-ish—if the KGB’s sole preoccupation were sex.
Just a few thoughts:
- The whole sex ed thing is out of control but parents, teachers, or school board members aren’t at fault. The new Health and Physical Education Standards, passed in April 2020, were a solution in search of a problem. The old ones were just fine! And, really, my Twitter feed would be less cluttered if the Murphy Administration’s Department of Education had thought harder about the wisdom of creating new standards on fraught topics at the beginning of a pandemic when no one was paying attention. Thought experiment: What if the DOE had taken a step back and given the public a second chance to respond, just like several members of the State Board of Education suggested?
- As long as we’re in “what-if-land,” imagine if DOE staff had more carefully culled the recommended lesson plans that accompany the new standards. They didn’t. Hence, the write-up in the Washington Post that reported on one of the DOE’s recommendations:
One sample lesson plan for first-graders, titled “Pink, Blue and Purple,” says students are to be taught, “You might feel like you are a boy, you might feel like you are a girl. You might feel like you’re a boy even if you have body parts that some people might tell you are ‘girl’ parts.” Another sample lesson plan for second-graders involves identifying the body parts and states “there are some body parts that mostly just girls have and some parts that mostly just boys have.”
So here we are. NJEA leaders have announced that those with different opinions about what is age-appropriate are “political actors on the extreme right” who are trying “to politicize our public schools.” Yet the partnership with Working Families Alliance (which NJEA funds) is a clear effort to politicize our public schools. (Disclaimer: Public education is inherently political. Always has been, always will be.) And what better time in the culture wars than now for the union to put some shine on its new Political Leadership Academy, which intends to train members to run for political office, from school board member to governor?
On my Twitter feed, folks are responding in kind. I think both side have forgotten that adults should be focused on student learning. Instead, we’re playing laser tag with peripheral topics. Let’s stay focused, folks.
The NJEA are going to infiltrate our local schools boards with candidates trained to outcast parents who push back
Has no business doing this at all
Does this seem right to you #NewJersey?https://t.co/OrmwBYrjZS
— 𝕄𝕚𝕔𝕙𝕒𝕖𝕝 𝔸𝕣𝕔𝕙𝕠𝕟 🇺🇸🐺 (@ColArchon) September 19, 2022