California Schools’ Controversial Racial Training is Nuts!

Written by Joseph Collins.

In a move that has sparked considerable debate, the Long Beach Unified School District in California allocated $2 million in taxpayer money to educate students and teachers on racial and social justice themes. This funding, sourced from the pockets of California taxpayers, was used to partner with the organization Californians for Justice (CFJ) to provide “equity and leadership training” across its 84 schools since 2019.

Training Teachers on Racism

As part of this initiative, 78 students and 13 parents were offered stipends totaling approximately $1,400 each to engage in internships with CFJ. These internships included leading 15 student-driven training sessions for teachers, focusing on topics such as implicit bias and racism, with a hefty $25,000 price tag. This redirection of educational focus has raised questions about the prioritization of traditional academic subjects within the district.

The Agenda Behind the Program

CFJ openly aims to mobilize marginalized youth, including those of color, immigrant, low-income, and LGBTQ students, to advocate for what it perceives as the ideal educational environment. However, the group’s credibility has come under scrutiny due to controversial statements made on social media, including accusations of “ethnic cleansing and apartheid” against Israel. Such rhetoric has led to concerns over the ideological framework being promoted within these training sessions.

Questionable Financial Priorities

Further investigation into the district’s finances by OpenTheBooks revealed that Superintendent Jill Baker was one of the highest-paid California school employees in 2022, with a salary exceeding $371,000. Additionally, the district boasted 106 educators earning over $150,000, spotlighting the substantial financial resources at play.

Criticism from Within

The initiative has not been without its critics, even among the school’s own staff. Jay Goldfischer, a history teacher at Long Beach, critiqued the program for indoctrinating rather than empowering students, suggesting it teaches them to parrot certain viewpoints rather than develop their own. This sentiment was echoed by another unnamed school employee who labeled the stipend strategy as “horrible propaganda.”

The Defense

CFJ defends its partnership with the district, asserting its commitment to ensuring every student feels accurately represented and safe to engage in critical dialogues. However, this statement does little to quell the concerns of those who view the program as a deviation from the core educational mission of teaching foundational skills like math and reading.

Our Take

The controversy surrounding the Long Beach Unified School District’s decision to fund social justice training with taxpayer money is a stark reminder of the ongoing debate over educational priorities. While the intention to foster an inclusive and diverse learning environment is commendable, the execution raises significant concerns. The focus on ideological training, especially when it potentially encroaches on the objectivity and neutrality expected in public education, warrants a reevaluation. Furthermore, the substantial investment in such programs during a time when academic performance in fundamental subjects is declining across the country suggests a misallocation of resources. Education should empower students with the knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary for success in all aspects of life, without sacrificing academic rigor for the sake of promoting a specific political agenda.

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