New Ad Campaign Aims to Educate NJEA Members About Their ‘Controversial’ Leaders

In a blog posted on its website this morning, the Sunlight Policy Center of New Jersey announced it was investing in a digital ad campaign aimed at reaching teachers at this year’s NJEA Convention.

While sources have confirmed that the ad buy is minimal and Sunlight has nowhere close to the millions of dollars NJEA has to spend on marketing, it will specifically target teachers attending the Atlantic City Convention, which runs thru Friday – with every teacher planning to attend the Convention receiving the advertisements on their mobile device.

Sunlight launched about three years ago with the mission to shine a light on the decisions of the executive leadership of the NJEA, the state’s most powerful special interest.  Sunlight’s founder, Mike Lilley, has released a number of heavily researched and footnoted reports detailing NJEA leadership’s controversial pass-through dues system that takes money directly from teachers’ paychecks; the billions of dollars spent on NJEA political activities; and the questionable loopholes created to build NJEA’s vast web of influence throughout the state.

Lilley is also a regular contributor to New Jersey Education Report.

Previously, Sunlight has targeted its communication to elected leaders, opinion makers, and press throughout New Jersey. With this ad investment, however, Sunlight aims to educate New Jersey teachers about their own union.

As outlined in both the ads and the blog posted this morning, Sunlight presents three key facts to teachers at this year’s Convention:

  • New Jersey teachers pay the highest dues in the nation — by far. Currently, New Jersey teachers’ pay $999. In 2020-21, the latest data available, they paid 28% more than #2 Alaska
  • New Jersey teachers’ dues fund NJEA President Sean Spiller’s personal political career. Spiller currently serves as Mayor of the Township of Montclair
  • In addition, Spiller has been the beneficiary of millions of dollars in salary by the NJEA.

Below are the display ads New Jersey teachers will see in Atlantic City.

It’s unclear if New Jersey teachers know these facts or whether it matters. Yet for at least some teachers–Sue Fischer, told me, “I grew up in Italy. There, we call this ‘extortion'”– it matters a lot.



Laura Waters

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