The New Jersey Education Association's foolhardy campaign to unseat Senator Steve Sweeney is proceeding - and no one is more irate about it than its own members. The state's roughly 200,000 teachers are fuming as their union's officers spend the remainder of an astounding $10 million - to punish a pro-education senator.
Political malpractice is what the teachers are calling it. Not to mention reckless, petulant, greedy, and irresponsible.
Not only are the NJEA's so-called leaders wasting their dues-paying members' money, they've harmed the election chances of other pro-education candidates, damaged their relationships with longtime allies, and jeopardized the NJEA's legislative agenda for years to come. Steve Sweeney himself, as Senate President, will have an enormous say in that agenda if he's reelected next week.
The NJEA might have a case if Senator Sweeney had a lackluster record on education issues. But he's been a staunch advocate for teachers and students - fighting for increased school funding and defending teachers against Gov. Christie's shameful taunts and smears.
His NJEA-funded opponent, meanwhile, is a Republican cheerleader for Chris Christie and Donald Trump, neither of whom could remotely be described as a friend of teachers and schools.
The one thing Steve Sweeney refused to be is a puppet for the outrageously overpaid NJEA executives. And for that they ignored the interests of their own members - and New Jersey’s students – to pursue their personal vendetta against him. To say that the state’s education community is not happy with that decision is an understatement.
But don't take our word for it. Here are just some of the recently published comments of teachers and ordinary citizens regarding the NJEA's senseless campaign against Senator Sweeney:
"This is why no one takes the NJEA leadership seriously anymore. Sweeney built schools for autistic students and an ACT school. The overpaid NJEA leadership keeps our education system in the dark ages more than the politicians do.
"I could never back a Trump-Christie supporter, and I am a teacher and 45-year member of NJEA. They aren't seeing the bigger picture. We need to keep a Democratically-controlled state legislature in order to prevent Republican gerrymandering. NJEA is doing the devil's arithmetic."
"The NJEA leadership is just running a vendetta against Steve Sweeney at the expense of New Jersey's kids. Then again, the union itself has never cared about education.”
"We love to cut off our noses to spite our faces, Only the NJEA could endorse a progressive governor candidate in Phil Murphy and turn around and endorse a Christie Republican. I'm embarrassed by my union."
"How about if they used their membership's dues money to improve teachers' lives and conditions, rather than ham-fistedly playing at politics and continually failing?"
"NJEA just wants a mindless puppet who will do is bidding. Just remember that to the NJEA nothing is as important (including students) as protecting its power."
The NJEA's officers will face those accusations and more as the consequences of their rash decision become clear. In trying to silence a resolute education ally like Steve Sweeney, they've gone too far. And their members will hold them accountable for it.