California has also proposed new, nonbinding curriculum guidelines that would expand the high-level math curriculum to include statistics or data science, encourage schools to place all middle school kids in the same level of math, and institute “social justice” themes in course material.
The University of California system dropped its SAT requirement for admissions.
Several school districts in California, including Los Angeles and San Diego, have suggested changes to grading policies, including doing away with penalties for missed deadlines. In a letter explaining the changes, Los Angeles Unified School District officials wrote that traditional grading had been used to “justify and to provide unequal educational opportunities based on a student’s race or class.”
None of these examples should be particularly controversial for progressives who actually believe in equity in education. The fact that each has come under attack from the right only heightens the need to defend, critique and improve them, rather than create an atmosphere of denial and deflection.
But what about those moments when things start getting very weird and indefensible?
San Francisco’s school board spent much of the early parts of 2021 debating the renaming of schools without saying much about reopening or even remote classroom plans. (They ultimately suspended the renaming plan after sharp criticism from parents and Mayor London Breed.)
Then came the abrupt change to the admissions practices at Lowell, a jewel of the San Francisco Unified School District which, similar to Stuyvesant in New York City, relied largely on a standardized test for entry. Last year, citing the pandemic, the school board announced Lowell would be moving to a lottery system. This February, it said those changes would be permanent and gave parents only a short window in which to prepare a response.
Many San Franciscans, particularly poor immigrant families with almost no social capital, have planned their children’s educations around the Lowell admissions exam. A coalition of parents, in response, have called for the recall of three board members, a measure that has attracted many progressive supporters, including State Senator Scott Wiener, who represents the city.
There was also the bizarre controversy around Alison Collins, a member of the school board and the wife of a wealthy real estate developer. Collins, who is Black, had been one of the city’s most prominent equity advocates. Earlier this year, some of Collins’s old tweets surfaced, one of which used a racist slur to describe some Asian students and parents and suggested they were all in the thrall of whiteness and assimilation. Collins was removed from a few school board committees and stripped of her leadership titles shortly thereafter, but kept her seat. She responded by suing the school district and the school board members who had acted against her. (Collins has since dropped the lawsuit, which was previously dismissed by a federal judge.)