Democratic Governor of California Gavin Newsom went to Washington, D.C., this week in order to receive an award on behalf of the Golden State’s alleged education improvements.
California is getting the 2022 Frank Newman Award for State Innovation by the Education Commission of the States “in recognition of its coordinated approach to educating all students from preschool to postsecondary, with explicit attention toward whole-child supports and services, as well as its historic financial investments to ensure educational equity.”
In a possible nod to more “woke” methods of schooling, the announcement of the award included, “California is demonstrating an intentional, comprehensive investment of funding and other resources that recognize and honor whole-child approaches to education, not only instruction.”
In a speech to the commission, Newsom said, “I do believe education is under assault… banning books, suppressing speech, the othering of students, teachers, parents. It’s alarming.”
“I do believe education is under assault… banning books, suppressing speech, the othering of students, teachers, parents. It’s alarming.” – @CAgovernor speaks to @EdCommission in DC. pic.twitter.com/Db4ECwkaxV
— Governor Newsom Press Office (@GovPressOffice) July 13, 2022
The governor’s press release reportedly said that while he is in the nation’s capital, Newsom “will also meet with national leaders and members of the Biden administration on key issues, including gun safety, abortion, climate change, homelessness, and education to talk about how we can stop the backslide we are seeing across the country and discuss how to shore up protections and privacy nationwide,” further raising speculation that the Democratic governor is looking to advance his name recognition for a potential 2024 presidential run.
The reward comes as California parents still have recent memory of strict lockdowns where students in the western state had the least in-class, in-person schooling than any other kids in the entire nation during the governor’s intense COVID lockdowns, the California Globe noted.
California has an egregious school record when it comes to schooling in the state, and it has also made controversial developments in the area of education, but it’s unclear if the changes are helpful to students. These updates include Oakland, Los Angeles, and some other districts restricting the use of D and F grades. A report from March found that California was the least literate state in the country, per EdSource and Capitol Weekly.
While California has a budget surplus, it has been spending around 13% less funds than the average across the country on K-12 schooling, according to EdSource.
The poor performance of students across the state can perhaps be blamed in part by the intense lockdowns students endured. Fox KTVU reported data released earlier this year that showed test results went down over the past year and enrollment also decreased.
The data showed that only around 49% of students met or exceeded the standard for English Language Arts/Literacy, while about 34% did so in math during the 2020-2021 school year. During the 2018-2019 school year, those numbers were over 51% for English and almost 40% for math. While the results were still low before the pandemic, the results revealed the impact of lockdowns on students.
Corey DeAngelis, Senior Fellow at the American Federation for Children, told The Daily Wire “[t]his ‘accomplishment’ would be well-deserved if it were renamed to the Award for Prioritizing Teachers Unions Over Kids. California politicians allowed schools to remain closed more than any other state so the teachers unions could extort ransom payments from taxpayers.”
DeAngelis pointed out that California’s education budget will provide around $23,000 per student into the school system, but the average cost of private schooling in the state is less than $16,000 for each student.
“Empowering families – as opposed to protecting the government school monopoly – would make Newsom truly deserving of an award for children’s education. But he won’t because he is beholden to the anti-child teachers unions,” DeAngelis noted. “The sad part, however, is that the government school system has become more of a jobs program for adults than an education initiative for kids. And this award makes that backward prioritization obvious.”
DeAngelis pointed to recent action taken by Governor Doug Ducey (R) of nearby Arizona, when the governor signed a bill that would open up school choice to every student in the entire state.
Ben Zeisloft contributed to this report.