San Francisco Teachers Voice Concerns about Funds Being Allocated to ‘Woke Kindergarten’

By: Beth Moreton | Published: Feb 08, 2024

Teachers in San Francisco have shared their worry after the district decided to allocate a large chunk of funding to “Woke Kindergarten”.

The teachers have said that due to the decline in children’s English and maths skills, this money would have been better spent elsewhere.

Woke Kindergarten Addressess Oppression

Woke Kindergarten was created so that they could offer workshops and consultations to both teachers and school districts on how to deal with oppression.

A group of people at a protest. One woman is holding up a sign that says ‘enough’

Source: Liam Edwards/Unsplash

On the Woke Kindergarten website, it states it 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.”


One School Spent $250,000 on Woke Kindergarten

Glassbrook Elementary, based in California, is one school that has invested in Woke Kindergarten, as the program promises to help boost test scores.

Two men in suits sat at a desk shaking hands. There is a piece of paper on the table

Source: Sebastian Hermann/Unsplash

However, according to News Nation, even though the school had used the program for two years, the children’s test scores were worse than before they started the program.

Children’s Test Scores Are Going Down

The children’s test scores at Glassbrook Elementary have gone down in both English and math, much to the disappointment of parents and teachers.

A teacher marking a test with a red pen.

Source: Freepik

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, on average, only 4% of the children at Glassbrook Elementary were good at math and 12% were good at English, with both subjects being down by 4% on the previous year.

Teachers Believe It Is a Waste of Money

Due to the poor grades in Glassbrook Elementary children, one of their teachers spoke at a board education meeting about their disappointment in the money spent on the program.

A teacher and children sat on the floor of a classroom. The teacher is holding a book and reading to them, whilst the children are pointing to various parts of the book.

Source: Ksenia Chernaya/Pexels

He said that while the content is good, he believes that the money would have been better spent on “reading intervention, tutors, or staff” to help the children get their grades up.

Woke Kindergarten Is Meant to Boost Attendance

In support of Woke Kindergarten, a School District Superintendent has said that the program was meant to improve attendance, which it has.

Children walking down a corridor in school. Two girls are walking towards the camera and two boys are walking in the opposite direction. All of the children have backpacks on. A teacher is walking in a different direction in the background.

Source: Zinkevych/Freepik

According to Jason Reimann, absence in the Hayword Unified School District was at 61% before taking part in the program, and within a year it was at 44%.


The School Has Shown no Improvements

Despite the improvements in attendance, it was also claimed that Glassbrook Elementary had been taken off a state watchlist.

Three children sat in a classroom at desks. The two girls have their heads on the desks. The boy is sat up but doesn’t look happy.

Source: Freepik

However, the Chronicle pointed out to them that the school was not only still on the list, but that it had also dropped further down the list than where it was at before Woke Kindergarten got involved.


Woke Kindergarten Is meant to Help Disadvantaged Children

Woke Kindergarten was initially set up as a way to help disadvantaged children, but the data from Glassbrook Elementary shows that it is more of a hindrance.

Children and a teacher sat around a table. The table is covered in paint. They have some cards on the table.

Source: David Peinado/Pexels

There is a belief among most teachers and parents that the current education system doesn’t help those who are disadvantaged. However, Woke Kindergarten might not be the answer.


Teachers Say Woke Kindergarten Is too Political

Where teachers are supposed to stay politically neutral in the classroom, many are saying that Woke Kindergarten is too deeply rooted in progressive politics and activism.

Children with a teacher in the classroom. One boy has his hand up. There is a blackboard at the front of the room with some writing on it.

Source: National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

Teachers have also said that Woke Kindergarten shares anti-police, anti-capitalism, and anti-Israel messages, as well as being mixed in with messages of making schools a fun, safe, and supportive environment.


Advocates Have a Solution

Where Woke Kindergarten might need to be fixed, some advocates have come up with a solution to help the children who are most disadvantaged.

Children sat in a classroom working. They have books open and are writing stuff down on pieces of paper.

Source: CDC/Unsplash

They have said that educators should confront the issues of racism and bias in schools head-on and talk about white supremacy to help students feel safe and supported.


Some Schools Need Research-Based Intervention

What works for one school might not work for others. However, some experts are saying that schools should have research-based English and math interventions that give children basic skills in these areas.

A teacher helps a student who is sat at her desk struggling with her work.

Source: Tima Miroschnichenko/Pexels

One example of success using this is John Muir Elementary. This school used a pilot math intervention program and has seen students proficient in math rise by 50%, which is up by 15% before the use of this program.


Teachers Have Been Banned from Woke Kindergarten Training Sessions

Even though Woke Kindergarten’s workshops are meant to help teachers, some teachers have said that they were banned from the sessions when they questioned what some things meant.

A group of adults sat around a desk. They all have a laptop open in front of them. Some are writing stuff down, whereas others are looking at the whiteboard where another adult is standing pointing to some post-it notes stuck to the board.

Source: Jason Goodman/Unsplash

One teacher said that he asked what was meant by “disrupting whiteness”. As a result, he was temporarily banned from any future training sessions.


Woke Kindergarten Has Its Good and Bad Sides

Many teachers have pointed out that they like some aspects of Woke Kindergarten, such as bringing awareness of discrimination and what that means.

Children sat in a kindergarten classroom. Three children are sitting at a table and they each have a bowl of food in front of them.

Source: Naomi Shi/Pexels

However, teachers have said what they’re not happy with is using it to show support for defunding police or insulting the United States in ways that make them feel uncomfortable.