It’s not surprising that an effort is underway to recall California governor Gavin Newsom, who administers a state with record homelessness, rising crime, and exploding pension debt. He rules imperiously, mandating arbitrary pandemic-related restrictions. In September, Newsom decreed a ban on gas-powered cars starting in 2035 because California is facing “a climate damn emergency.” And he signed a bill mandating the “study and development of proposals for reparations for blacks who live in the Golden State.” Newsom insisted in a tweet that “our past is one of slavery, racism, and injustice.” Is he aware that California was admitted to the Union in 1850 as a free state?
But even broken clocks are sometimes right. Last month, Newsom vetoed Assembly Bill 331. This radical legislation would have made taking an ethnic-studies class a requirement to graduate high school in California. “There is much uncertainty about the appropriate K‒12 model curriculum for ethnic studies,” Newsom wrote in his veto statement. “The latest draft, which is currently out for review, still needs revision.”
Bills like AB 331 promote victimology and anger and come with a political agenda that emboldens the woke wing of the Democratic Party. While an improvement over last year’s more radical 2019 version of the bill, the 2020 model curriculum still endorses classes that stress “modern day movements and intersectional struggles for social Justice (sic) like the Immigrant Rights Movement, The Black Lives Matter Movement, the Environmental Justice Movements, Feminist Movements, LGBTQIA Queer Movements, and others.”
Newsom’s veto was just a speedbump in the road for California’s cultural Marxists. The bill’s disappointed author, Assemblyman Jose Medina, promised that he would reintroduce it next year, insisting that the governor’s veto amounted to “a failure to push back against the racial rhetoric and bullying of Donald Trump.” California Teachers Association president E. Toby Boyd was “surprised” by the veto; Theresa Montaño, a professor of Chicano Studies at Cal State Northridge, called it “painful” and added, “White people in this society can still with the stroke of a pen say to children of color in this state that your history doesn’t matter and that the only way your history will be told is if we get to sanitize it, scrutinize it and approve it before it gets to you.”
Other woke initiatives are moving forward. Days before Newsom’s veto, the California Department of Education released a “Covid-19 update,” in which Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced the “Education to End Hate” initiative, referencing the disease only to rant against President Trump. “COVID-19 is not the only virus affecting our society today. The man-made viruses—the ones of racism, hate and bigotry—are also gaining a foothold. Increasingly, I see heartbreaking stories of anti-Semitic behavior, bullying of Asian American students because of our President’s rhetoric, Islamophobia, discrimination of our LGBTQ neighbors, and violence directed at people of color.”
Thurmond’s plan includes training for teachers in “antiracism and bias”; a “virtual classroom series” designed to teach the “many forms of bias” young people face; and a “round table with leaders,” the purpose of which is to “brainstorm how best to ensure a physically and emotionally safe learning environment that is inclusive for all students.”
Many school districts are pursuing their own efforts. Teachers are enrolled in Critical Race Theory workshops, in which they learn that racism is endemic to American life. Teachers are also told that they should be skeptical about “dominant legal claims of neutrality, objectivity, colorblindness, and meritocracy.” Racism, they learn, has contributed to all “contemporary manifestations of group advantage and disadvantage.”
In case students don’t know what to do with all this newfound knowledge, the California State Board of Education has developed a Seal of Civic Engagement Award. Eligible students must take part in “one or more informed civic engagement project(s) that address real-world problems.” Civil disobedience counts for credit.
California is reaching the point where true civil disobedience would be fighting back against the progressive groupthink that has invaded our schools; truly civilly disobedient students would start a campus Republican club and wear MAGA hats to school. While the state education establishment is committing schools to a radical progressive agenda, only half of California’s students performed at grade level in reading on the most recent state-administered test. Just 30 percent of the state’s eighth-graders scored proficient in reading on the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
More than anything, civic-minded parents need to get organized. They must demand that their children get a real education rather than a woke curricula.