Calif. taxpayers foot $3 million bill for CSU's 'Center to Close the Opportunity Gap'

Four California universities announced a "Center to Close the Opportunity Gap" to promote "anti-racism" in K-12 education.

The center’s leadership includes a California Department of Education official and a professor who focuses on researching “anti-racist pedagogy.”

The state of California contributed $3 million to launch the project.

Universities in California launched a “Center to Close the Opportunity Gap” to focus on the need for “anti-racism” in K-12 education, and taxpayers in the Golden State are footing the $3 million price tag.

According to a press release, the center — a project created by California State University-Long Beach, California State University-Fullerton, San Diego State University, and San Jose State University — will train teachers to close educational gaps, conduct original research, and spread resources to “implement evidence-based best practices at local education agencies.”

California State University spokesperson Toni Molle told Campus Reform that financial support for the Center To Close the Opportunity Gap “was provided through a one-time state allocation of $3 million in the 2019-2020 budget act.”

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“The Center to Close the Opportunity Gap must become a tool to help our state establish anti-racist, anti-classest, anti-sexist systems,” said Dean of San Diego State University Joe Johnson, who was the keynote speaker at the center’s virtual launch. “As Californians it is not enough for us to be proud of our efforts to avoid being racist. We need to strive to model to the nation what it means to be anti-racist.”

The Center to Close the Opportunity Gap’s website explains that “equity in the schooling context requires a focus on outcomes” due to California’s “historic inequities.” The center believes that “systemic shifts” are necessary to achieve equity.

One of the center’s leaders, Professor Nat Hansuvadha of California State University-Long Beach, researches the process of “examining, deconstructing, and redesigning pedagogy and curricula towards more inclusive, culturally responsive, and anti-racist pedagogy for general and special education teachers.”

In addition to several professors and faculty members at the four universities, the California Department of Education’s Director of the “Educator Excellence and Equity Division” Barbara Murchison will serve on the center’s advisory board.

Campus Reform has reported on several instances of “anti-racism” practices moving from college campuses to primary and secondary school contexts. Among these examples is the University of California-Davis’ teacher education program, which is being revamped to incorporate a social justice lens.

[RELATED: UC-Davis pauses teacher education program to incorporate social justice]

Campus Reform also reached out to San Diego State University and San Jose State University; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft