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Politicized Education Explains Steep Academic Declines and Big Achievement Gaps in California

The state spends nearly $25,000 per student in K-12, yet we are ranked #40 nationally

By Frank Xu, November 3, 2022 2:50 am

Public education in California has reached a crisis point. While it is true that the Golden State has consistently trailed behind other states in standardized test scores, latest results for 2022 from the Nation’s Report Card show further declines in reading and math scores of students in fourth and eighth grades.

In 2022, California scored 230.36, 214.39, 269.81 and 258.79 in fourth grade math, fourth grade reading, eighth grade math and eighth grade reading, respectively. Well below the national average in each category, these results also represent declines from 2019.

Source: Author Compilation Based on the 2022 NAEP Results.

This grim picture of regression also holds true in what’s revealed by the state standardized test Smarter Balanced assessments of math and English language arts. The California Department of Education (CDE) released results on October 24th, documenting a 3.81% decline between 2019 and 2022 in students who met or exceeded standard in English and a 6.35% decline in math. In other words, only four in ten California students in grades 3 through 8 and in 11th grade can read at the grade level, while only three in ten can do math proficiently.

Woke Policies and Actors to Blame

Contrary to the propagandist notion that progressive education policies can produce better and fairer results, our next generation in America’s most progressive and diverse state are worse off academically, compared with three years ago and compared with their peers elsewhere. So, what happened?

During the last three years, California schools have embarked on a pilgrimage to lead the nation in embracing far-left ideological dogmas. In 2021, it became the first state in America to mandate ethnic studies for high school graduation. The finalized state curriculum still contains key elements of critical pedagogy that emphasize racialized identities, collective struggles and victimhood, while a more radical version called Liberated Ethnic Studies is making inroads in many local school districts.

The California State Board of Education has been considering a revolutionary mathematics framework for its public K-12 schools. Instead of focusing on improving proficiency, the new framework touts anti-racism, and decentering whiteness as worthy goals on one hand, and proposes eliminating gifted programs and advanced tracking in the name of equity.

In addition to championing woke curricular changes, California schools have also chased the political fashion trend of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). A plethora of school boards voted to approve “Board Policy 0415- Equity,” pledging to dismantle “a history of exclusion, discrimination, and segregation.”

My group, Californians for Equal Rights Foundation (CFER), undertook a pioneering research project that examined the prevalence of thought indoctrination in 44 California school districts.  Our empirical study, looking into board policies, school district developments, and board meeting minutes, found that 24 of these districts, including 10 elementary school districts, have official DEI policies and 30 expended public education funds on paid DEI training such as professional development sessions and curricular development.

Indeed, radical ideologues and education bureaucrats, who are driven by political agendas, money and a desire to protect the status quo, should take much of the blame for the abysmal state of public education in California. But at the institutional level, teachers’ unions are the biggest culprit. Not only have they poured massive funds to support partisan candidates at the national and state levels, unions are now putting a thumb on the scale in local school board races.

My group’s latest research pilot discovered that over $600,000 have been injected into a handful of school board campaigns in San Diego as of October 27, 2022. Traditionally, school board candidates spent $5,000 or less in their campaigns. But in San Diego Unified School District, the San Diego Education Association PAC has put in over $150,000 to help two of its hand-picked candidates and a stunning $91,000 to oppose a pro-education candidate.

Disastrous Outcomes Hurt the Disadvantaged Disproportionately

Proponents of woke education pride themselves as the arbiters of love, tolerance and truth. But the reality shows a stark contrast. Deteriorating educational results hurt vulnerable students the most. According to both the Nation’s Report Card and CDE’s Smarter Balanced results, learning gaps affecting low-income students, English learners and “students of color” have deepened. According to Ibram X. Kendi, “If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist.” By this standard, policies contributing to the increasing academic achievement gap must be the opposite of “anti-racism” and a sign of discrimination.

Source: Author Compilation Based on the 2022 NAEP Results
Source: Author Compilation Based on the 2022 California Smarter Balanced Results

Something is clearly wrong in our public education system. The state spends nearly $25,000 per student in K-12, yet we are ranked #40 nationally. Politicized, agenda-driven education has victimized countless California students and teachers’ unions overshadow the education policy making processes from Sacramento all the way down to local communities.

Nothing changes if nothing changes. Hopefully, California parents and voters want some changes bad enough to revolt against the woke establishment at the ballot box in this upcoming election.

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9 thoughts on “Politicized Education Explains Steep Academic Declines and Big Achievement Gaps in California

  1. One could theorize that the ongoing failures of public education in California are the result of poor organization, flawed policies, schools and teachers just needing more money, etc. Those theories are debunked when the underlying objective of education in California is, in fact, failure.

  2. Parents in California should consider removing their children from government indoctrination centers as their future and our future depends on it?

  3. Education has always been politicized. Every school that ever existed was started, not to impart useful life skills, but to indoctrinate the students in the ideology and beliefs of the founder.

    The very concept of a “school” needs to be called into question. Whoever controls the education system controls the future of the nation. This is an incredibly dangerous situation, as we saw in 1930s Germany, and as we have seen throughout our Western civilization since Rudi Dutchke called for the “Long march through the institutions” in October 1967. Today, the extreme marxist wing of the teachers’ union decides what our children will learn, and how they will learn it. There is no solution to this, except to return the process of educating our children to the parents, where it belongs. And that is a non-starter anywhere in the world today.

  4. Gee, could this have anything to do with the massive influx of poor low-IQ illegal immigrant groups into our sanctuary state? As a former public high school teacher, I know a few things about that. Moreover, habitually disruptive students are not expelled because, as an administrator told me, expelling kids “makes the school look bad.” Better to look good and be bad than the opposite.

  5. I vote against all of the incumbent school board members if they act against the interests of the students and parents with their woke policies. If the next set of board members does the same thing, I vote against them, too. Maybe after a while they will get the message. I encourage everyone to do this.

  6. I’m glad I’m old and don’t have grandkids to be subjected to this disgusting, evil, devil-ruled culture in this current school administration! There is NOTHING AT ALL GOOD about what is happening in our world, our country, particularly our state (!) and also our schools! Anyone involved in these horrendous changes in all schools, which involves the/our CHILDREN should be immediately removed from the top down! I’ve talked to enough former educators and know all about the EVILNESS of the modern way of indoctrinating these innocent children! WHAT THE HELL HAS CHANGED IN OUR ONCE GREAT COUNTRY? We are failing in everything, but to FAIL OUR CHILDREN by adopting this current evil sick culture will insure the destruction of this once great Country! Those carrying this out across the Country are as corrupt and equal to those involved in what happened to Nazi Germany, and currently in N. Korea, etc etc etc! They are Ruled by the Devil! Prove me wrong in me saying that what is happening in Education isn’t in the children’s best interests!! I’ve read the reports and heard the complaints against this! What I haven’t heard or read, are any good reasons/examples of these “changes” actually doing anything GOOD! NOT ONE! It appears that the ONLY reason certain humans are trying to indoctrinate the children with this current evilness and the one’s pushing this ish on them…is to brainwash them! And, pray tell, for what? I’m glad my kids were raised in a much saner, better time than this current world! Looking ahead 20-30 yrs, I can’t imagine the damage our society will have suffered because of this current, from the top down, administration! I won’t probably be around to suffer it! I’m so glad I lived most my life in a Strong, God-loving, mostly Respectable, Patriotic Country! Most people were proud to be American, Saluted the Flag, Proudly served and fought for their Country! Held jobs, Paid their OWN way, lived in 2 Parent (man/women) Homes, Raised their kids together! Went to Church, Paid their Taxes, HAD PRIDE..! (that was before that word was STOLEN and given a different meaning..) Children went to School to learn Reading, Writing, Math, Spelling, the meaning behind and showing Respect for others! HOW TO GET ALONG! Thanks to “social media” and having such an easy life compared to previous generations, this current generation has totally lost it’s way, it’s an “ALL ABOUT ME!” culture! We’ve unfortunately made it too easy for them, and raised a generation of too many offended, entitled, unpatriotic, disrespectful, waah babies with no respect for anything or anybody! They aren’t being raised by adults that act like adults! Where are those missing fathers? I can only hope there are enough of the DECENT, MORAL, HARDWORKING, RESPECTABLE ones left to keep this Country going…if not The one’s involved in the destruction of a civil respectable society DESERVE what they get! again…glad I’m old! GOD BLESS AMERICA! even the ones who dont deserve it! The Devil be Damned along with his followers! So people…think hard and do the RIGHT thing!!! Be on the side of RIGHT! Vote out the bad and vote in the good!! All kids need the good people on their side! Start NOW! All our future’s depend on it!

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