The taxpayer-funded program trains teachers on how to confront white supremacy, disrupt racism and oppression, and how to remove those barriers when it comes to learning, according to its website.
The program describes itself as “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 and trans liberation.”
A federal program finances the sessions with the intention of assisting the nation's lowest-performing schools to increase their student achievement, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Glassbrook Elementary School in Hayward, California has been utilizing Woke Kindergarten for the past two years. Reports show that student achievement has fallen since the school adopted the program. There is one year left on the contract and teachers are now questioning if the money spent on the program could have gone to better use, specifically since the majority of the school's population consists of low-income students.
More than 80 percent of students are Hispanic or Latino and two-thirds are learning English as a second language, according to the paper.
Data from the outlet’s report showed that less than 4 percent of students were proficient in mathematics and just under 12 percent were at grade level in English as of last spring, representing a decline of approximately 4 percentage points in each category.
District officials defended the program to The Chronicle, stating that Woke Kindergarten fulfilled its contracted duties. The district claimed that the school was no longer on the state watch list due to improvements in suspension and attendance rates. However, the Chronicle reported that not only is the school still on the list, but it has also been demoted to a lower level.
Concerning the program's intention to make schools safe, joyful, and supportive for all children, some Glassbrook teachers have questioned the decision to implement Woke Kindergarten, arguing that it is erroneously rooted in progressive politics and activism as well as contains anti-Israel, anti-capitalism, and anti-police messaging.
At the same time, progressive teachers in support of Woke Kindergarten, which is aimed at elementary-aged students, allege that the curriculum is necessary in order to disrupt an “oppressive” system.
Zeus Leonardo, a professor at UC Berkeley, told a the outlet that its progressive abolitionist material is not about indoctrinating students “but making politics part of the framework of teaching.”
The “Woke Kindergarten” curriculum features a “woke word of the day.” Some of these words include “ceasefire,” “strike,” and “protest.”
The word of the day offers students “language of the resistance” which is intended “to introduce children to liberatory vocabulary in a way that they can easily digest, understand and most importantly, use in their critiques of the system.”
In addition, the curriculum provides questions that include: “If the United States defunded the Israeli military, how could this money be used to rebuild Palestine?”
Tiger Craven-Neeley, a teacher at the elementary school who is white and a self-described “gay-moderate,” told the outlet that he is rather displeased with the Woke Kindergarten training.
He claimed he was informed that “disrupting whiteness” in the school was the primary objective and that the sessions were “not the place to express white guilt.” According to Craven-Neeley, he interrogated a trainer who utilized the phrase “so-called United States” and offered “Lil' Comrade Convos” or lessons on the organization's website that fantasize about a world without law enforcement, money, or landlords.
Another teacher who did not wish to be identified said that there is no room for those who have “dissenting” opinions. She also said that the curriculum was not working, citing low test scores.
“It slowly became very apparent if you were a dissenting voice that it’s not what they wanted to hear,” said the teacher.
Further details on the “Woke Kindergarten” program can be read here.