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Woke Kindergarten

Recent information revealed that at Glassbrook Elementary School in the Hayward Unified School District (HUSD), less than 4% of the 474 students at the school were proficient in math, and under 12% achieved proficiency in English. 1

The report on Glassbrook recently surfaced indicating school records in the Spring of 2023 with such dismal scores in basic education. According to a Daily Wire report in early February, Bay Area School Tried ‘Woke Kindergarten,’ Test Scores Dropped More, this elementary school had been on the state’s “Comprehensive School Improvement” list (a state watch list for improving academic improvement) since 2020. The same school was on a Hayward Unified School District list in 2021 to be shut down along with three other schools: ‘Save our school!’ Families in Hayward protest plan to shut campuses to help close budget gap. At the time, the HUSD were dealing with school closures and possibilities of potential school closures over a three year period in order to address plunging enrollment and a major budget shortfall.

Obviously, HUSD decided not to close Glassbrook but chose to use $250,000 from a federal program to employ the services of a for-profit company called “Woke Kindergarten” as a way to “fix” problems at the school. However, after the school used the federal aid, intended to help boost test scores for the country’s lowest-performing schools, it has now sunk lower in light of recent analysis. A San Francisco Chronicle revealed: This Bay Area school district spent $250000 on Woke Kindergarten program. Test scores fell even further. “Woke Kindergarten” did not help with the improvement of basic educational needs of the students. Instead, the company trained the school’s teachers “in topics like white supremacy and oppression,” rather than such academic subjects like English and mathematics. 

Glassbrook was in their second year of using “Woke Kindergarten” within a three-year contract. District officials supported “Woke Kindergarten’s curriculum stating that “it did what it was hired  to do.” Their curriculum was possibly utilized with any of Glassbrook Elementary’s 474 students, and it included a “woke word of the day” (words like ‘strike’ and ‘protest.’ According to the recent Daily Wire article, such vocabulary words were “meant to introduce children to a ‘language of the resistance’ or a ‘liberatory vocabulary in a way that they can easily digest, understand and most importantly, use in their critiques of the system.’”

The article went on to reveal some content of the “Woke Kindergarten” website, such as its goal of “supporting children, families, educators and organizations in their commitment to abolitionist early education and pro-black and queer and trans liberation.” According to Zeus Leonardo, UC Berkeley education professor, “Woke Kindergarten is founded on the relatively new concept of abolitionist education, which advocates for abolition, or ‘a kind of starting over.’” Leonardo was additionally quoted in explaining that “the idea is that certain things can’t be reformed, tweaked or shifted because they are inherently problematic or oppressive. It’s not about indoctrinating or imposing politics, ‘but making politics part of the framework of teaching.’” 

On the other hand, at ground zero, some Glassbrook teachers questioned the value of the program, revealing that “Woke Kindergarten is wrongly rooted in progressive politics and activism with anti-police, anti-capitalism and anti-Israel messages (italics ours) mixed in with the goal of making schools safe, joyful and supportive for all children.”

One unidentified teacher at the Glassbrook school had asked questions about why the trainer used the phrase “so-called United States” during one session he attended. Additionally, he reported questioning “lessons on Woke Kindergarten’s website called ‘Lil’ Comrade Convos’  and some talking about a world without police, money, or landlords.” (italics ours) 

The Chronicle article reported that another teacher, on condition of anonymity, explained that “Woke Kindergarten offered one perspective on issues and that there was little or no tolerance for questions. “It slowly became very apparent if you were a dissenting voice, that it’s not what they wanted to hear.” 

Defending the decision to hire “Woke Kindergarten,” Hayward Superintendent Jason Reimann told The Chronicle it was not really about improving test scores, but “helping students feel safe and whole is part and parcel of academic achievement.” Reimann stated that the decision was approved by the school board and made by the school community, including parents and teachers, as part of a federal improvement plan to boost student achievement by improving attendance. “We are in favor 100% of abolishing systems of oppression where they hold our students back,” he said.  

This represents an ongoing and challenging situation and is why parents, grandparents and concerned citizens need to know what is going on ‘behind closed school doors.’ This is why Informed Parents is on a crusade to elect ethical and morally responsible individuals to the school boards across the Bay area as well as statewide. Watch for our upcoming election guide when good candidates need your support as they run for a post on local school boards in November.

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