Wayne Public Schools facing criticism for implementing some curriculum changes
Curriculum mandates have become a point of contention at Board of Education meetings in one Passaic County school district, even prompting some to pursue legal actions.
The Wayne Education Association, the union that represents teachers and secretaries in the district, says that not only are Board of Education members being verbally attacked because of the curriculum changes but so are the teachers.
“We’re seeing a lot of pushback from some members of the community that are not happy with the changes being proposed,” says Eda Ferrante, with the association.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed a measure into law in 2019 requiring the state’s Board of Education to implement more inclusive instruction regarding sexual education, diversity and equity. But some teachers say that they are being accused of teaching topics that are not included in the curriculum changes.
“Within the equity and diversity inclusion curriculum, some people feel that we’re teaching Critical Race Theory,” Ferrante says. “We are simply teaching and promoting other cultures. We’re promoting other students’ cultures and religions and types of people.”
Another point of contention in the school district is the books being used as part of the change to the curriculum. In October of this year, the Wayne Board of Education meeting became heated when parents took to the podium to express their anger in the inclusion of the book "Gender Queer,” which some find controversial.
“All of our students should be represented in education…These books dealt with LGBTQ+ topics and it was singling out a group of kids that any of them that were watching that board meeting felt that this wasn't really fair towards them. These are resources that these kids need,” Ferrante says.
Teachers who are also members of the Wayne Education Association have a message for their students.
“We are there for them. There's a lot of discontent going on at these board meetings and the behavior has been quite difficult for those kids to observe,” says member Dennis Carroll. “The message has also been difficult, and the message is there might not be a place for you here in Wayne…and we don't want our kids to feel that way.”
News 12 New Jersey reached out to some of the parents who are against the curriculum changes but did not hear back. The next school board meeting is scheduled for Thursday night.