The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) is an organization that is “open to any individual who is employed in a public school or college” and that claims to have 200,000 members. The NJEA hosted a convention on November 10 and November 11, 2022. In a document previewing the convention, the organization promoted well-known political activists Levar Burton, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and David Hogg as keynote speakers. The document for the event explained that at the convention “members will explore and express their intersectional identities while developing their expertise in teaching true and accurate history.”
In the past, Levar Burton called himself “woke” on Twitter and defended “cancel culture” as “consequence culture.” Nikole Hannah-Jones is the creator of The New York Times‘ “1619 Project” which asserts that America was founded in 1619 to represent “when enslaved Africans first arrived in what would become the United States.” David Hogg is a notorious vocal gun control and left-wing political activist on Twitter.
The document also promoted “affinity groups” at the convention. Affinity groups are groups that segregate people based on their identity, such as race and ethnicity. Two affinity groups listed are the “NJEA Equity Alliance” and “NJEA Members of Color Network.” The “Equity Alliance” was described as “six NJEA committees that play key roles in the association’s efforts to create a more just and equitable climate in public education.” One committee listed was the “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee.”
The “Members of Color Network” affinity group was described as “an intentional organizing effort to connect and engage with an underrepresented affinity group within our association.” The document continued to explain that the “network’s goal is to elevate the advocacy, engagement and ownership that all members have in their union.”
The document also promoted a “NJEA Consortium Area” so that “members will explore and express their intersectional identities while developing their expertise in teaching true and accurate history.” The document encouraged members to come through here “for representative book giveaways, student spotlights, and supports for teaching Amistad, Holocaust, LGBTQIA+, Persons with Disabilities, Asian American Pacific Islander curriculum and more.”
One event in the “Consortium Area” appeared to promote changing the curriculum taught to students and was titled “Facilitated Lesson Design on Inclusive Texts.” Another event in the “Consortium Area” outright promoted drag queens. This event was titled “LGBTQIA+ Banned Books – Drag Queen Story Hour.”
The convention also included numerous workshops. Topics included “Creating Safer Spaces for LGBTQ+ Youth,” “LGBTQ+ Lessons in the History Classroom,” “Celebrating Diversity Through the Power of a Story,” “Amistad Commission Conversation: School District and Community Curriculum Revision Leadership,” “Systemic Racism, Asian Americans, and U.S. History,” “Disappearance of Educators of Color in Our Public Schools,” “Anti-Racist Pedagogy in the Classroom,” “Creating a Safe and Brave Anti-Racist Classroom,” “Creating Healing Classrooms for Students Affected by Forced Migration,” “Fundamentals of Inclusive Education,” ” Having Anti-Bias Conversations in Middle and High School,” “Implementation of Diverse Curricula in All Content Areas,” “Go Green: Students Take on Real World Concerns,” “LGBTQ Inclusive Lessons: Planning for Change,” and “Grading for Equity.”