EXCLUSIVE: Liberal foundations funnel millions to red states for wake-up school programs; parents demand change

A coalition of more than two dozen parent organizations is asking five foundations, including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to end funding for race and social and emotional education programs in public schools.

“We’re told all the time that our school system doesn’t have enough money,” Nicole Neely, president of Parents Advocate for Education, told Fox News. “But we know that all of this happens in our school system not only with our tax dollars … but with a lot of outside money as well.”

A Parents Advocating for Education study last month found that 72 school districts received more than $200 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation between 2017 and 2021; WK Kellogg Foundation; Wallace Foundation; Windward Foundation; and Chan Zuckerberg’s initiative was first reported by Fox News.

“The funds have gone primarily to a variety of social programs focused on equity and race,” Neily said.



A spokeswoman for Wallace pointed to evidence that social and emotional learning helps promote academic achievement, while representatives from the Kellogg and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations joined Fox News to help students succeed and reduce disparities between race and income groups. ‘lim pointed to the gaps. A spokeswoman for the Windham Foundation, which has ties to the left-wing black money group Arabella Advisors, said none of the grant money went to curriculum initiatives and instead went to emergency food supplies amid the COVID-19 pandemic. funded the entry program.

Social and emotional learning examines how knowledge and other characteristics influence a student’s personality and emotional management.

A group of 26 parent education advocacy groups sent a letter to five foundations first reported by Fox News, saying that giving donations to programs based on equity and race is ultimately harmful to students. they kidded.

“Our organizations are concerned that the grants are being used to advance these patronage policies, especially as students work to overcome the educational losses incurred during the Covid-related school closures,” the letters said. “Students should be treated as individuals, not members of identity groups.”

Tiffany Justice, founder of Moms for Liberty, one of the letter’s signatories, said parents want an emphasis on merit and academics rather than social initiatives.

“As parents, we want our kids to have an emphasis on academic achievement that gives them practical skills,” she told Fox News. “We believe that this money that goes to school districts from these charities could be put to better use.”

A mother and former teacher moved to Palm Beach County for its highly rated school system. But after she felt that critical race theory and social and emotional learning were “infiltrating” the classroom, she withdrew her children and moved them to a Christian school.

“I’m uncomfortable with a lot of the topics that are being taught,” Kristen Stevenson told Fox News.


According to Parents for Education Advocacy, students’ academics suffer when race-based issues are the focus of attention in the classroom.
(AP Photo/Matt York)

“Where has mainstream academics gone and how do we get it back?” continued the mother of four children. “Why should their emotional regulation be taught from first grade to 10th grade? Do they think we’re not doing it as a family?”

School District of Palm Beach County received 7 million dollars The education advocacy group relied on public records such as tax returns, making it one of the largest recipients of the grant, according to an analysis by Parents for Education. Wallace sent the bulk of it and provided funds for the Social and Emotional Learning Initiative.

“The district is committed to educational excellence in our A-level school system,” the district said in an emailed statement, denying that it taught critical race theory in its schools. “We strictly adhere to the core curriculum set forth by the Florida Department of Education.”

“We also work with our students on teamwork, perseverance, goal-setting and self-control, as these skills are important contributors to success at school and later in life. there is a lot of research that shows that they are contributing factors,” the district continued. “To accomplish this, the district is transitioning to state-aligned life skills.”

A spokeswoman for Wallace pointed to research on social and emotional learning The RAND Corporation and The Aspen Instituteboth published in 2017.

“Wallace’s support for six school districts and their partners in offering social and emotional learning in ways each community chooses is based on evidence that skills such as setting and achieving goals and problem solving with optimism benefit students academically “, he said. “Having these and other life skills helps students succeed academically, and surveys show that parents support their development.”

But Neely says such teaching strategies are a kind of Trojan horse.

In support of race-based and equity initiatives in the classroom, evidence suggests that social and emotional learning can help students succeed.

In support of race-based and equity initiatives in the classroom, evidence suggests that social and emotional learning can help students succeed.
(Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)


“A number of these programs — equity, social-emotional education — are actually used to reinforce a lot of individual-based programs,” he said.

Letters sent by the coalition underscore its argument. For example, a note to Wallace emphasizes language in one of his reports suggesting that children play a role in a “racist and unjust society.”

The letter called the notion “relevant” and “gives schoolchildren a sad and limiting belief that hard work and determination can never be enough to succeed.”

Neily also noted that any classroom time “distracted from reading, writing, and arithmetic and spent on social-emotional learning programs … is time not spent making up for the loss in learning.”

Justice, herself a mother of four school-age children, told Fox News: “The biggest concern for moms and dads on Earth is that money is not being used to promote and improve academic achievement.”

Josie McSpadden, a spokeswoman for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said her organization has been “focused on improving academic outcomes for students” since it began investing in education more than 20 years ago.

This “includes investing in approaches to ensure that all students feel a sense of belonging in the classroom so they can reach their full potential,” he told Fox News. McSpadden also said the foundation would work to improve math outcomes, adding that the pandemic has “exacerbated existing academic gaps and displaced millions of students.”

A Kellogg spokesperson said, “Investments in racial equity and racial healing, broad community engagement, and local, diverse, and intergenerational leadership are essential to empowering children to succeed in the classroom and beyond.”

“However, significant challenges and barriers disproportionately affect children of color, children from low-income families, and English language learners,” the spokesperson continued, noting that the pandemic has widened existing achievement gaps. .


COVID-19 drove parents to homeschool their kids, but classroom politicization kept them there, Texas mom says

Meanwhile, Neily and Stevenson say that much of the content is being introduced to students who are too young to grasp the concepts.

“If you have a six-year-old, a seven-year-old in first grade, and you’re teaching second grade about systems of oppression, it’s a very complicated theory,” Neely told Fox News. – This is something that children cannot wrap their heads around.

“In many cases, these kids are still trying to learn their ABCs, and now they’re being told they have to integrate pronouns into things,” she said. “Well, they don’t know what a pronoun is.”

Also, political partisanship doesn’t seem to play a role in how the money is distributed.

“It’s not just happening in big cities. It’s not just happening in blue states,” Neely told Fox News. “It’s happening in red states. It’s happening in small towns.”

Parents protect education in November sent letters to the governors of the republic of several states with funded school districts.

“We hope that governors and other elected officials who care about education, who care about the academic performance of their schools, will take a serious look at how their schools receive money from outside organizations,” Justice said.

At the same time, Stevenson worries that a social and race-based focus in education hurts student achievement.

“The public school system exists to provide an academic foundation for our students,” he told Fox News. “They’re sorely lacking and they’re failing because the money is being spent on emotional training, things like that.”

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative declined to comment.

Click here to see the full interview with Justice, Neely and Stevenson.

Ramiro Vargas contributed the accompanying video

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