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Controversy surrounds NPS instagram posts criticizing teachers’ strike

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Orlando Christian
NPS students support the union at NTA rally, Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Newton Public School’s (NPS) official Instagram account faces criticism for a series of posts released yesterday, Tuesday, Jan. 23, condemning the Newton Teachers Association (NTA) on their decision to strike.

These posts, in the form of “Did You Know?” graphics, included statements supporting the proposals of the Newton School Committee. One post called the committee’s parental leave benefits “generous,” while others claimed the union’s current contract proposal would result in a loss of educator positions and emphasized that the NTA’s strike has delayed the last day of school. 

“I think it’s embarrassing that they’re using the public platform to push their own agenda, which is the agenda of the school committee and the Mayor,” said junior Canina Wang. “The account is supposed to represent the district, including the teachers and the students, and they’re using it to broadcast views that are not held by the teachers or many of the students and parents.”

According to Julie McDonough, Director of Communications for NPS, the social media account is managed collaboratively by McDonough, the committee, and NPS administration.

“The recent posts were an attempt to share data-driven information in smaller pieces that people could see and respond to,” said McDonough. She added that the recent posts aimed to share data-driven information in a more digestible format, intending to reach a wider audience than it would on the website alone.

The last post released by the NPS account, which stated, “The NTA can end this strike today and return kids to classrooms tomorrow,” currently has 42 likes and more than four times as many comments. The vast majority of the comments condemn the post. 

“Wow. To use an official Instagram page to degrade teachers and go against every value that NPS claims to stand for is bizarre,” wrote South senior Evan Ng. “Misinformation at its worst, tone deaf at its best.” The comment received over 220 likes. 

Newton Comics, an Instagram account with over 1,180 followers, regularly posts graphics denouncing the committee. Five hours after the NPS account released their recent posts, Newton Comics released a series of graphics using the same “Did You Know?” template to mock the NPS posts. 

These posts contained statements such as “Mayor Fuller and her School Committee can end this strike today and return kids to the classroom tomorrow”. They accused the NPS Instagram account of being “a propaganda engine” for Mayor Fuller and the committee.

“It is abhorrent that Anna Nolin and the School Committee have weaponized NPS social media, something that families rely on for unbiased, factual information, against the very employees of NPS as a propaganda engine,” said the account manager of Newton Comics, who is a NPS teacher that wishes

to remain anonymous. “I wanted to draw attention to it, and give form to the anger that so many folks felt looking at those posts.” When asked to comment on the parody of the NPS posts, McDonough said, “If people want to do that, it’s within their rights to do so.” 

McDonough added that she was surprised by the backlash the NPS posts received. “It’s difficult because the intention was to share factual information with families in the community so that they could make their own decisions. It doesn’t seem that it was received that way,” she said. 

Rising tensions due to the strike have increased attention to social media, while social media posts about the strike have also sparked intense debates. 

“The phrasing of NPS in their social media posts creates a very one-sided argument,” said sophomore Alara Bhatia. “The accusatory and critical tone towards the NTA fails to analyze the whole issue and paints the teachers in a very negative light.” 

Update Thursday, Jan. 25 — As of late yesterday night, Wednesday, Jan. 24, the NPS “Did You Know?” Instagram posts have been removed from their page.

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Orlando Christian, Photo staff
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