One of the concurrently great and not-so-great things about New Jersey politics is the presence of the New Jersey Educators’ Association (NJEA). They’re great because I believe a well-run, dedicated statewide union for educators can really work in the best interests of teachers, schoolchildren, and parents combined. They’re not-so-great because the NJEA is an anti-progress, angry group of zealots who only care about attacking Republicans and standing in the way of the types of solutions that help the very poorest schoolchildren achieve greater academic heights. I often wonder what the NJEA has against poor kids, but Lord knows they’d lie if ever asked.
Anyway, if you live in New Jersey and of clear political mind, then you already know that the NJEA is a group of zealots that many of their own members no longer want to be associated with these days. The impetus for writing this entry isn’t just to rehash how sad of an organization the NJEA is today, but rather to react to a recent report about their spending habits during the current election cycle. Laura Waters of NJ Left Behind (Ms. Waters is a Democrat, by the way, who is a strong advocate of student achievement over all else) posted a short blog entry recently that referenced a few other sources regarding reports on the NJEA’s political spending. Most notably, she links to NJ Spotlight and their recent article which cites the NJEA’s spending on the current election at $13 million. A quote from the NJ Spotlight article:
The New Jersey Education Association’s political juggernaut keeps on rolling. With the latest campaign finance reports in, the teachers union has now topped $13 million in spending on the state elections next Tuesday, easily beating all other special-interest spending and almost matching Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign itself, according to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. The bulk of the money is out of its super PAC, Garden State Forward, which has been active for not only Democratic challenger Barbara Buono, with two television ads on her behalf so far, but also focused on helping Democratic candidates in a handful of legislative races that are considered tight.
How pathetic? How disgusting? What an embarrassment to those “members” of the union that are either middle-of-the-road politically or who fall right of center. For those of you reading this entry who are not familiar with the New Jersey system – each teacher in the state has to is essentially forced to join the NJEA. Sure, you can choose not to be a member, but even if you’re not a member you still have to pay a percentage of the annual dues (I hear it’s 90%) on the basis that – as a teacher – you still receive the benefits of union negotiations.
It’s a modern day racket system.
After reading the NJ Spotlight story on the NJEA’s unbelievably partisan political spending and adding that knowledge with all of the anti-academic achievement actions of the NJEA over the last few years, it makes one wonder what these folks really want for our kids. Sure, you can read their websites and other forms of propaganda and come away feeling all happy and nice. And yes, you can listen to their verbal propaganda and videos and think, “Wow! What a great organization for New Jersey!” But when it comes right down to it, after looking at the reality of the partisan, biased political spending for this organization you have to be embarrassed. You have to be embarrassed that this is the sorry organization that New Jersey has negotiating for its teachers.
Becoming a teacher is a noble and worthwhile profession. However, the NJEA as an organization is not worth of its own membership. The NJEA as an organization is a failure. It should be disbanded so that New Jersey’s long, statewide nightmare can come to an end.