Struggling Bay Area School Hires ‘Woke Kindergarten’ Program

A struggling Bay Area elementary school hired a $250,000 program called “Woke Kindergarten” to train teachers over the last couple of years. However, despite the quarter-million dollar grant, the school’s performance continued to worsen, becoming among the worst in the state.

In Hayward, California, Glassbrook Elementary School hired Woke Kindergarten as part of a federal program to help struggling schools boost student achievement. But after two years of the expensive teacher training program, the schoolchildren’s test scores have continued to decline, and many people are questioning whether that funding would have been better spent elsewhere.

The students at Glassbrook are primarily low-income students, and two-thirds are English language learners. Last spring, the school’s overall test scores hit record lows, with only 4% of students proficient in math and just 12% proficient in English at their grade levels. This represents an overall decline of about 4% in each category.

In the midst of these struggling students, the Woke Kindergarten program aims to train teachers to “disrupt whiteness” and abolish “systems of oppression” that hold their students back. In the program, teachers were told to teach students anti-capitalism, anti-police, and anti-Israel or even anti-American messages. They also taught “language of the resistance” to help students gain vocabulary for critiquing the current American capitalist system.

Some anonymous teachers spoke with news organizations, expressing frustration about the program, its rigidity, and its messaging. One teacher was temporarily banned for asking questions about disrupting whiteness during training, and another said it became quickly apparent that there was zero tolerance for any questions.

There was also frustration about the exorbitant costs of the training program, especially in the face of such dismal results. “Our reading scores are low,” one anonymous teacher said. “That could have gotten us a reading interventionist.”

However, Hayward Superintendent Jason Reimann expressed support for the Woke Kindergarten program. He said that parents, teachers, and the school board were in favor of the program and that it had been a community decision to use the program to try improving the school.

Reimann pointed to improvement in student attendance scores as proof the program was working. The rate of chronic absenteeism at the school declined, going from 61% to 44% after the program was implemented. The rates of absentee students skyrocketed during COVID, and it is unclear just how much those rates may decline across the nation as the pandemic subsides.

Still, the school is not doing well as its administrators try to claim. The school district claimed that the school was no longer on the state’s Comprehensive School Improvement list. However, the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out that the school was not only still on the list, but had in fact been reduced to the lowest-performing level.