ANALYSIS: Woke teaching programs create K-12 'Social Justice Educators'
UCLA's Teacher Education Program is 'guided by an anti-racist and social justice agenda' ranked as third best education school.
One UCLA TEP alumna teaches anti-bias and anti-racist pedagogy to elementary students.
Integrating activism in the K-12 classroom is the trickle-down of liberal bias in higher education. The results are seen as educators mirror anti-racist trainings and social justice workshops, which evolved from college campuses.
For instance, University of California, Los Angeles’ Teacher Education Program (TEP), trains “social justice educators” and follows an “anti-racist and social justice agenda.”
In its purpose statement, TEP sets the intention of creating “transformative professionals.” Referencing the concept coined in 1988 by Henry Giroux, a critical pedagogy theorist, the statement directs graduates to have “a social vision and commitment to make public schools democratic public spheres.”
Subsequently, TEP calls for a focus on “the principles of equality, freedom and social justice.”
TEP is ranked as the third best education school, reflecting a shifting bias in the training of K-12 public school teachers. The program handbook alone confirms the creation of so-called social justice educators and suggests “teachers must assume activist roles.”
Furthermore, the program incorporates Critical Race Theory by intentionally applying race where it is not naturally present. When outlining a computer science education initiative, the handbook ties in social justice and equity, directing teachers to “disrupt dominant notions of neutrality”
Similarly, on a wider state-level, the California Teaching Performance Expectations call educators to familiarize themselves with “issues of equity and justice.” Those expectations were adopted in 2016.
One TEP graduate, Liz Kleinrock, received praise for her anti-bias and anti-racist (ABAR) pedagogy. On Instagram, Kleinrock promotes ABAR education and often shares classroom assignments to her over 164,000 followers.
Currently, Kleinrock is teaching at the District of Columbia International School. Outside of the classroom in her charter school, Kleinrock offers training and webinars that target educators and parents who want to “engage with youth around issues of race, gender, diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
In April of 2021, Kleinrock spoke to her students about Dereck Chauvin, the police officer charged with the death of George Floyd. A sixth grade student allegedly said, “We had a victory, but now it’s like we have to just move on to the next cop who killed a black person. I’m happy about the verdict, but I am not at peace.”
Woke teachers such as Kleinrock collaborate and spread ABAR pedagogy and classroom material through organizations like Learning for Justice, formerly Teaching Tolerance. Other organizations include Black Lives Matter at School, which suggests “empathy, discrimination, activism, privilege, and public policy” are vital conversations for elementary students.
As aforementioned, liberal teaching programs receive national support, for instance from the National Education Association, the largest teacher’s union.
Campus Reform reached out to Kleinrock but did not receive a response.