A New Jersey teachers union condemned parents who confront school officials at school board meetings as "extremist" in a new advertisement this week.
The New Jersey chapter of the National Education Association (NEA), the largest teachers union in America, posted the short ad on YouTube. The ad flips back and forth between colorful photos of teachers with students and black-and-white photos of parents, arguing that the latter are trying to fuse politics with education.
"When extremists start attacking our schools, that’s not who we are," the video says. "People who only want to fight to score political points should take that somewhere else."
The ad comes amid a nationwide movement from conservatives to allow parents to be more directly involved in their children's education. Republican governors in states like Virginia and Florida have signed legislation aimed at empowering parents to prevent the teaching of critical race theory and gender theory, especially for young students.
"Defaming parents as ‘extremists’ for standing up for their children is right out of Merrick Garland and Randi Weingarten’s playbook," Laura Zorc, executive director of Building Education for Students Together, told the Daily Caller.
"New Jersey’s parents deserve better than this NJEA (New Jersey Education Association) slander — standing up for your children is not a political point, it is a parent’s responsibility. The NJEA should be ashamed for pretending they care more about children than their parents," she added.
Conservatives have made significant gains across the country by highlighting racialized curriculums, with many progressive school boards getting voted out in local elections.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the second-largest teachers union in the country, commissioned a poll on education in July. It found that 43% of Americans believe schools devote too much time to teaching gender identity. Meanwhile, 21% said schools aren't devoting enough time to the topic.
AFT president Randi Weingarten has also condemned the conservative push on education as "extremist," though she targeted politicians with the term.
"While extremist politicians are trying to drive a wedge between parents and teachers by banning books, censoring curriculum and politicizing public education, we’re focused on investing in public schools and the essential knowledge and skills students need," Weingarten said in a speech in mid-July.
Republican candidates have found great success in prioritizing the issue, with the most notable victory being Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who homed in on parents after his opponent dismissed their role in influencing curriculums.