A school district in California’s Bay Area is launching an initiative to train over a hundred students to become Critical Race Theory activists in a plan that could last three years and cost more than $100,000.
Martinez Unified School District (MUSD), located just inland from Berkeley, California, is preparing to train students to become leftwing activists with the help of Lori Watson, the CEO of Oakland-based racial equity consulting firm Race Work, which aims to “interrupt systemic racism” and calls on allies to become “co-conspirators.”
While many equity consultants aim their trainings at teachers and administration with the understanding that it will trickle down to the classroom, Watson targets her agenda at children. Her Student Leaders’ Anti-Racist Movement (SLAM) seeks to “empower and mobilize” students “as catalysts for change through an anti-racist leadership youth movement.”
Race Work asserts that students who join SLAM will “deepen their personal racial understanding and elevate their racial consciousness as they develop the skills and tools to disrupt systemic racism within their schools, communities, and the larger society.”
The program also promises to help students “think about the social, cultural, and political aspects of their experiences, with a focus on race” while urging adults to “co-conspire” with the students.
The school district stated that it was considering partaking in SLAM as part of the district’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative in a September 11th, 2023 presentation included in the school board minutes. The board later unanimously voted to approve a one year contract for SLAM on the 25th.
Watson has been the target of criticism in the past due to her divisive social media posts on race, one of which read, “Black people Amerika hates you!”
Included in the board meeting minutes is Watson’s proposal to MUSD, which states that the first year of the three year program would cost $37,500 while the second would cost $37,000, and the third would come with a price tag of $34,250, for a grand total of $108,750.
One document from the district explains that the program will be available to 60 students at two high schools for a total of 120 students, and that SLAM will be approved for subsequent years pending the success of year 1.
The three-year program is split up into three sections: learning, articulating, and working, all with the intent of “developing and elevating capacity for student racial equity leadership.”
By year three, students are supposed to “lead the work of anti-racism in ways that are most meaningful to them.” Race Work adds that “Collaborative efforts between SLAM! and administrative leadership is what drives this work, which requires the adult capacity to authentically share power with students.”
Watson’s programs include full-day seminars with students and meetings with staff advisors, but she assures that “additional coaching/consulting may be requested at $350/hr.”
“My anti racism work with Dr. Watson has been the most valuable lesson I’ve ever learned,” one student testimony in support of SLAM reads. “Being white, there is so much privilege that I have that I was unaware of before participating in these important conversations with Dr. Watson.”
Another testimony reads, “I sit with only white people at lunch, I hang out with only white people outside of school, and I play sports dominated by white people. I know this is bad, I just don’t know how to change it.”
Race Work unabashedly pushes Critical Race Theory, with the organization’s website replete with calls to “disrupt and dismantle the inherently racist educational system,” and the supposed need to consider “how we unwittingly assist in the reproduction of a racial order.” MUSD has worked with Race Work in the past, awarding the organization a $16,000 contract in 2020 and a $25,000 contract in 2021.
Watson’s company has also secured lucrative contracts from multiple other California school districts. Race Work raked in $43,000 from Hayward Unified School District in 2021 and just under $30,000 from San Rafael City Schools the following year.
Watson and MUSD did not respond to requests for comment.