February 23, 2024

California students struggle after funds spent on Woke Kindergarten program

File photo of students in class. (Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — Teachers in a San Francisco Bay-area school district are voicing concerns about allocating federal funds to the “Woke Kindergarten” program, arguing that students’ test scores in English and math are declining, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report.

Woke Kindergarten offers consultations and workshops for teachers and school districts meaning to address oppression at a young age and combat it. It’s unclear how many school districts nationwide may have contracts with the program.

According to its website, Woke Kindergarten is a “global, abolitionist early childhood ecosystem and visionary creative portal supporting children, families, educators and organizations in their commitment to abolitionist early education and pro-black and queer trans liberation.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Glassbrook Elementary, in Hayward, California, spent $250,000 in federal funds provided by a program meant to help boost test scores for some of the country’s lowest-performing schools. However, after two years with Woke Kindergarten, students’ scores are reportedly worse. 

Last year, less than 4% of Glassbrook students were proficient in math, and less than 12% were at grade level in English, both down about 4% from the previous year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Last week, Tiger Craven-Neeley, a third grade Glassbrook Elementary teacher, spoke out at a board of education meeting, stating: “I just want to express my disappointment that Hayward has spent $200,000 to bring abolitionist training to our school. Not that some of the content isn’t worthy; it is. But just $200,000, I just can’t help but think where else that money could have been spent. A great percentage of our students at our school are reading at below grade level. I just can’t help with thinking how much reading intervention, tutors, staff could have been paid for using that money.”

Hayward Unified School District Superintendent Jason Reimann told the San Francisco Chronicle that the program aimed to boost attendance, which it has done, reducing chronic absenteeism from 61% or 44% within a year.

NewsNation reached out to Woke Kindergarten and received an email stating the founder is on vacation and will return in a few weeks.

NewsNation also reached out to the Reimann and the school board president, awaiting their responses. Attempts to contact Craven-Neeley were unsuccessful.

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