NJEA Consortium Announcement – New Jersey Education Association


Create links, a community, a program

By Lizandaa Alburg

New Jersey has a variety of representative programs: Amistad, Holocaust, LGBTQIA+, Persons with Disabilities, and as of September 2022, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Yet efforts to teach these programs are usually confined to their respective “monthly celebrations” or reduced to “heroes and holidays” rather than exploring New Jersey’s beautiful diversity and valued inclusion of all voices.

Implementation of representative programs is, in many districts, inconsistent at best and non-existent at worst. Members express a desire to learn more, but don’t know where to turn for representative, vetted, high-quality materials that teach students and celebrate our shared experiences.

The NJEA Consortium, with funding from a National Education Association (NEA) Major Public Schools Grant, is poised to change all that.

What is the NJEA Consortium?

On April 1, 2022, the NEA awarded the NJEA a three-year grant: Cultivating Community, Action, Justice, and Understanding through the NJEA Consortium: Connections. Community. Curriculum.

The consortium is made up of NJEA staff members and three cohorts of member design teams. It partners with more than 25 colleges and universities, historical museums and commissions, and social and racial justice organizations. The consortium will lead an innovative initiative that aims to infuse historically marginalized identities into K-12 teaching and learning. The curriculum alone is not enough; the Consortium will also focus on developing high-quality professional learning for members and fostering meaningful community conversations that will prepare all stakeholders to understand, embrace and celebrate New Jersey’s diversity.

Why is the consortium necessary?

According to the Education Law Center, schools in New Jersey serve one of the most diverse student populations in the country. Without curricula that speak to this diversity, we risk alienating a huge segment of our student body and misinforming the rest, perhaps with disastrous consequences.

Representative programs help create schools where children feel valued, safe and engaged. Such environments have been shown to promote student well-being, increase academic achievement, and reduce opportunity gaps. Valuing the diversity of classmates prepares all students for a future where they will interact with a multiplicity of communities throughout their lives.

The NJEA Consortium: Connections. Community. Curriculum.

Over three years, the consortium, in partnership with NJEA members, content specialists and community stakeholders, will identify thematic connections and create integrated curricular resources, collaborate to foster pedagogical practices that teach and affirm our humanity and that of others, and unite communities by providing all stakeholders the opportunity to see themselves reflected in teaching and learning using a three-pronged approach:

Connections through professional learning: opportunities for immersive professional learning experiences as well as learning journeys supported at conferences. These experiences can include trips to historic sites, lectures and workshops given by subject matter experts, and training in facilitating a project-based, problem-solving global peace game.

Community engagement through collaborative partnerships: engage and amplify stakeholder voices through community discussions and projects that aim to increase partnerships, identify local allies and leaders, and increase community awareness of our connected humanity.

Curriculum via representative curriculum resources: curating, designing, and distributing high-quality, representative educational resources, improving educators’ awareness of these resources, and increasing educators’ content knowledge. Experiences and professional learning journeys will be combined with sessions to collect artifacts and design representative programs for maximum impact.

“The PDII team is committed to bringing to life our longstanding vision of representative degree programs throughout New Jersey and beyond,” said Dr. Chrissi Miles, director of NJEA Professional Development and Instructional Issues (PDII). “With financial support from the National Education Association, we will approach and tackle this challenge from the ground up – immersing educators in professional learning experiences, linking that learning to facilitated program design, and working closely together. to elevate and amplify diverse voices and perspectives. in all our communities. Along the way, we aim to develop leaders who can continually spread education, awareness, and support for representative curriculum efforts and the power of association to impact the common good.

This is a great opportunity for members to develop their leadership, build their understanding and take action to ensure that all of our students see themselves reflected in the program.

Contact c[email protected] for more information.

Lizandaa Alburg is Associate Director of NJEA’s Division of Professional Development and Educational Issues. She can be contacted at [email protected]


Comments are closed.