Orange County Board of Education to host 2 ‘terrible’ ‘concerning’ ethnic studies curriculum forums – Orange County Register
The Orange County Board of Education has set dates for two summer town halls on the controversial topics of ethnic studies and critical race theory – the forums are expected to strongly object to the president Councilman Ken Williams called this week a “terrible program of study that will divide America.” “
Board members plan to pay up to $ 7,500 to bring in experts of their choice and rent the Rush Park Auditorium in Rossmoor for the forums on July 27 and August 24.
If there was any doubt about the position of the right-wing majority on the matter, Williams made it clear at a board meeting on Wednesday night: “This forum will show and prove by experts why it is is bad.”
Board members also gave orders to create a new dedicated website separate from the Orange County Department of Education as some board members expressed concern over how which they are presented, in particular on social networks.
On the hot topic of ethnic studies, Williams and board member Mari Barke said voters are asking for information and the forums will help dispel misinformation.
“I wouldn’t say ‘the terrible program’, I would say ‘the concerning program’,” Barke said. “And that’s why we want to educate people and ask experts to explain what it is.”
Earlier this year, the California Board of Education approved a model ethnic studies curriculum for high schools in California. Individual school districts have the choice of whether or not to introduce the study of race and ethnicity into the classroom. Santa Ana Unified, which has offered ethnic studies classes since 2016, made it a graduation requirement last year.
Several other local school districts have either approved an ethnic studies program or are considering one. In Los Alamitos, the school board approved the teaching standards for “social justice” on May 12 in a meeting that had to be held online due to the potential threat of violence. Opponents said they feared the social justice framework was based on a critical theory of race, a look at systemic racism typically taught at the college level.
Board member Beckie Gomez, often the minority vote on the board, pushed back and questioned his colleagues about the need for the forum. As the council’s liaison with a group that represents members of the Orange County School Board, Gomez said she conducted an informal survey.
“I didn’t have anyone who wanted town halls in the format that was proposed,” she said.
Gomez noted that previous board forums on other controversial topics were stacked one-sided. The most recent dates back to last year, when the board of directors held a community meeting and presented a “white paper” against face masks and social distancing at the height of the pandemic.
Barke said town halls are not for other school board members but for voters, “who are constantly asking questions.”
The Board of Education has limited functions and does not oversee the 27 school districts in the county, so it has no say in whether individual districts choose to bring ethnic studies to their students. .
Also during the meeting, administrators heard a presentation on what a new website dedicated to the Board of Education would look like. Board members, who said they wanted their own distinct branding, had requested their own website, a site separate from the Department of Education.
Although the two entities work together, they are distinct and often at odds with each other. Battles between the board of directors and Superintendent Al Mijares also spilled over in the courtroom. In a recent settlement, it cost taxpayers nearly $ 3.2 million to settle a board lawsuit against Mijares for hiring a lawyer.
Council members said they liked the proposed website, which features the council’s logo rather than the ministry’s logo on the home page.
Trustee Lisa Sparks called it “very stylish” and said she liked the idea of the board having its own URL.
Administrator Tim Shaw joked, “I would like to believe that the 650,000 residents of the Fourth District are well aware that I am their representative on the board, but maybe there are a few people who don’t. do not know. “
Shaw, who also sits on La Habra City Council, asked if the website could include a map of directors’ boundaries. A map, along with biographical information on board members, their photos, meeting schedule and updates will be included on the new Education Council website, said Shane Cline, head of education. digital media department.
These items, however, are all already available on the Orange County Department of Education website.
The way board members are represented was brought up again when Williams asked who in the communications team is posting information on Twitter. Williams said there were “a lot of political attacks on the board” on social media and complained about a tweet pinned to the county’s Department of Education Twitter feed of Orange who was referring to the department following state and federal guidelines during the pandemic both board members were speaking out publicly against face masks and social distancing. This pinned tweet was deleted Wednesday evening. Spokesman Ian Hanigan said Thursday he was unaware that last summer’s tweet was still pinned to the top of the department’s Twitter account.