It is one of three academy programs offered at the high school, and students must apply for admission.
The academy’s “specially designed curriculum” focuses on critical pedagogy, social justice, ethnic studies, gender studies, intersectionality, and social and emotional skill development among other things.
The curriculum teaches students to “challenge and criticize power, oppression, capitalism, white supremacy, imperialism, colonialism, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, cisheteropatriarchy, ableism, and xenophobia on the internal, interpersonal, institutional, and ideological levels.”
However, learning about these issues is not enough, the academy says. During their senior year, academy students are required to become activists. They must develop and run campaigns, which can be global in scope.
The academy also says it encourages students to reimagine themselves and their communities “outside of the master narrative” and values “radical healing” and “transformative solidarity.”
The academy started in 2006, but the founders focused on things like multiculturalism and lacked the “holistic humanization and critical consciousness” the students needed, the academy’s website says.
Meanwhile, some core curriculum academics are suffering at the high school.
San Leandro High School has a 19% math proficiency rate and 21% science proficiency rate, well below California’s average of 30% proficiency in both math and science, according to U.S. News and World Report. The school’s reading proficiency rate is 57%, also below the state average.
The vast majority, 92%, of San Leandro High School’s students are minorities, and about 57% are considered economically disadvantaged.
The high school serves more than 2,600 students, and, despite their low math scores, most still go on to graduate. The high school has a graduation rate of about 92%, above the 2019 national average of 86%.
“This school’s mission is based entirely on critical race theory and critical gender theory,” Erika Sanzi, director of outreach for Parents Defending Education, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“If a school wants to train activists for particular ideological causes like dismantling capitalism or challenging cisheteropatriarchy, they shouldn’t be doing it on the public dime,” Sanzi added.
California is not the only place where school districts have adopted social justice-inspired curricula. Across the country, parents have complained about their young children learning ultra-progressive concepts in school including racial themes and gender identity. In many cases, parents have simply pulled their children out of public school in favor of alternatives like homeschooling.
In Rhode Island, a mom sued her child’s school district after saying it had barred parents from secret meetings of the taxpayer-funded Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Advisory Board.
Meanwhile, public school enrollment has plummeted 1.3 million students since before the pandemic began. California’s enrollment is down 1.7%.
Also earlier this month, national test results showed that the pandemic wiped out two decades of progress in math and reading among 9-year-olds. The drop affected children from all races and income levels but was particularly devastating for students who tended to struggle more.