District 3 Councilman Jose F. Moreno wants the Anaheim City Council to put itself on record as supporting the “community schools” education model being pushed by the Anaheim Union High School District and the Anaheim Elementary School District. This evening, the city council will vote on a resolution of support for the community schools model.
Earlier in the week, the Voice of OC published an op-ed by Grant Shuster and Anat Herzog. Shuster is president of the AUSHD’s teachers union, while Herzog is from Chapman University’s College of Educational Studies – which, like academia in general, has been captured by exponents of Critical Pedagogy and other Marxian academic theories.
Their op-ed is long on rhetorical happy talk and vague claims, but short on specifics.
In essence, the “Community Schools” model entails turning school sites and school districts into social service agencies – for adults, as well as students – where education is the primary social service provided.
Why? That question was posed rhetorically during a 2019 AUHSD Board meeting where a community school pilot program at Sycamore Jr. High was launched. It was answered by one of the district’s numerous civic engagement coordinators, who noted that the social services to be offered under the community schools model were indeed duplicative of services offered by county and state agencies.
While conceding the duplicative nature of the community schools model, she todl the Board that AUHSD should move ahead…because it can.
According to the staff report for that meeting, for the AUHSD leadership, a primary rationale is to make each school an engine for communhity organizing: “To achieve these goals, with with and supported by district staff, principals will be encouraged to assume a leadership role in coordinating community groups to make their schools the center of neighborhood life.”
The staff report also calls out the accumulation of political clout for the school district as an explicit goal of the community school program:
“Through this policy the district seeks to:
Increase community support and political capital.”
In other words, for AUHSD (and AESD) the community schools model is old-fashioned empire building – creating a city within a city.
And here the rest of us thought schools are supposed to education children, not building “political capital.”
A reasonable question why two districts with declining enrollment, both of which are struggling to succeed at their actual mission of providing their students with a quality education, have instead turned their sights on bureaucratic empire building?
And why support a campaign by these two politicized school districts to extend their tentacles further into community life? The AESD Board of Education is totally controlled by progressive teachers union activists who work for the AUHSD. And the AUHSD leadership under Superintendent Michael Matsuda isn’t shy about using public resources for political activity.
After all, this is the same AUHSD that hired a New York City-based consulting outfit to conduct “racial equity audits” of Katella and Cypress high schools and inculcate staff with “anti-racist” ideology. It was only after a series of articles in the Anaheim Observer that the AUHSD canceled the contract – while refusing the respond to public record act requests asking for an explanation for the cancellation and district communications with the Center for Racial Justice in Education pertaining to the cancellation.
The AUSHD continues to contract with the OC Human Relations Commission to provide unconscious bias training to district straff – which is essentially telling teachers (particulary white teachers) that you’re racist but just don’t know it yet.
There’s little reason for confidence these districts will not bring the same progressive political activism into “community schools.”
When an organization isn’t succeeding at its core mission, diverting attention and resources into un-related activities is a poor strategy for success. Rather than expend their mission and take on the roles already performed by existing social services, AUHSD and AESD students and families would be better served if these districts instead focused on actual mission of providing quality education and improving academic outcomes.