OPINION: The Demonization of our Teachers


Sabine Noyes

Parents and community members at the February 22 board meeting.

Sabine Noyes


At last Tuesday’s emergency board meeting on February 22, a sea of parents and community members in red could be seen. Those who were in support of the board’s resolution to drop the mask requirements for students in the NJUHSD wore something red, resulting in a relatively monochrome picture. Red is often characterized as a passionate color representing the passion that these adults feel towards masking.

In that room of J204, dozens of people squashed into the small space in anticipation. Masking is a deeply polarizing issue and has been that way for the past two years. The opinion of the board has been steady for this time: they want school to be normal again. Even if the path to normalcy cuts corners.

In the teacher union’s MOU, a memorandum of understanding that is part of the contract, masks will be required until there are further public health guidelines and the union renegotiates. In the resolutions passed last week, this part of the teachers’ contract was breached. Teachers had no seat at the table when it was decided to vote on something that directly affects their jobs. When this was brought up by teachers, there was angry shouting and disruption. Parents were saying things like “If you don’t like it, then don’t teach” or “masks are child abuse.” Some of the board responded by agreeing with the comments and saying that teachers were not thinking about students, only themselves. When a Trustee Reeves sided with teachers, she was yelled at by a fellow board member and was booed by parents. 

In public comment prior to the start of the meeting, a parent complained that a teacher had allegedly asked their students about their vaccination status and should be subsequently removed from the classroom and investigated for child abuse. And during comments from the public in regards to the masking resolution, teachers were called selfish and self-serving. 

But this anger towards teachers isn’t specific to just the masking issue. Critical race theory (CRT) is being brought up time and time again at board meetings. This group of people speaking is claiming that public schools are encouraging discrimination against white students and pushing ideals of communism and socialism into our school children. And who is in charge of students’ education? Our teachers. Parents are angry with our teachers for being part of this and publicly calling out teachers has become common practice in board meetings. Parents want to be able to monitor exactly what their children are learning. And if they don’t like it, they want immediate action. 

The treatment of our teachers is not just in our district, it’s nationwide. One reaction to this is a proposed bill in Indiana that would require all teachers to publish their curriculum a year ahead of time. This would impact teachers because oftentimes, teachers adjust their curriculum in order to adapt to the needs of their students. Publishing curriculum a year ahead of time will negatively impact the education of all students. 

The anger that some parents and community members feel towards our teachers hurts everyone. Our teachers are at the heart of our schools, without them, we would have no education. They are our mentors, role models, and our source of the education we need for our futures.