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Michael Gottesman is a retired New Jersey attorney and the founder of the “New Jersey Coalition for Protection of Public Education,” a non-partisan organization designed to provide parents with factual information about school board issues and school board elections/
While it would not be the first time, apparently members of the radical right have decided to take their tactics of using children as their pawns into New Jersey public school classrooms.
As evidenced by a public statement and multiple Facebook posts on a number of radical group pages, parents are being encouraged to use their children as “spies.” They are being told to supply their children with recording devices in an attempt to catch “rogue” teachers indoctrinating their children with supposed “woke” lessons, outside of the approved curriculum. Additional, they use these conspiratorial statements to further divide parents from teachers, a collaborative relationship that is a foundational element of our public school system and one that has made our public school exceptional.
At the Westwood Regional High School Board of Education meeting on Thursday June 15th, James O’Keefe a Westwood graduate, and founder of Project Veritas made an appearance and offered all parents video cameras to give to their children to bring into the schools and catch the alleged “indoctrination of kids.” It should be noted that the offer was made to all of Bergen County.
Further, it should be noted that Mr. O’Keefe was recently ousted from his own company, Project Veritas amid allegations of abuse of staff/employees as well as using company funds to pay his personal expenses. Project Veritas is now suing Mr. O’ Keefe, alleging he bullied staff, and violated his employment agreement by establishing a rival organization while still on Project Veritas’ payroll.
Recording of individuals without their consent is a tactic that Mr. O’Keefe has used in the past; taking videos and selectively editing them for dramatic, and misleading, effect. More on Mr. O’Keefe here.
Subsequent to the meeting, posts began appearing on radical Facebook pages and Twitter accounts encouraging recording with hidden cameras. One Mahwah, NJ parent proudly posted, “I stuck a camera on my child…welcome to New Jersey schools,…James, we love you.”
While the practice of recording a conversation without the consent of all parties is not illegal in the state of New Jersey, actions such as these will have a dramatic negative impact on public education, putting a chilling effect on the entire process of education and preventing a free exchange of ideas.
Further, the practice of recording on school grounds without consent of the school district and of all parties recorded is general a violation of Board of Education policy. It’s also a violation of the privacy of minor children who will undoubtedly be caught on tape as well. But those who are doing this seem to have little regard for law, policy, or privacy.
Additionally, it is a totally unnecessary restraint to put on educators who know well that if they teach anything beyond the accepted curriculum, they are subject to discipline and dismissal. And, rather than allowing teachers and students to be allies on the search for knowledge, it sets them at arms against each other.
All for the sake of a “conspiratorial invention” that teachers are secretly inserting a “woke” agenda into curriculum and indoctrinating our children. This nonsense is being taken to absurd extremes with one parent complaining that storage bins in the classroom were in “rainbow” colors.
In conclusion, we must all take the position that this is: 1) merely another instance of radical elements attempting to harass our educators, 2) an attempt to discourage teachers from having an open educational environment in their classrooms; and 3) an attempt to gain further control over the individual classroom so that they can infuse hatred and remove diversity and inclusion, claiming it is a rebuttal to “woke” indoctrination.
The radical right complains that there is too much governmental interference in our daily life and then want to send their children into the classroom with hidden cameras. In the view of this writer, the hypocrisy is evident. “Big Brother” in the classroom is acceptable as long as it is their “Big Brother” doing the espionage.