Angela Hansen
President & Founder
American Academy of Strategic Education

Many public school boards are hosting their final meeting the week of May 17, 2021. I attended one last night that, unfortunately, was about what I expected.

The meeting began 29 minutes late. Then school board members spent the first 36 minutes patting the teachers on the backs. They also voted to give the teachers a bonus for their efforts. Then attendees listened for 24 minutes to school board member’s experts explaining that there was “so much learning loss this year” and such “grave academic gaps that need to be filled,” so much so that next year will be a “repeat” and “a make-up year” for all students. …They also informed the masses who came to complain about their children having to wear masks at school, that the topic was being pulled from the agenda for the night. Then they somehow finagled a way for some of the attendees to speak about masks. It seemed like thousands of parents complained about the ill-health of their children due to wearing masks at school. The school board eventually got to the “cultural proficiency” curriculum topic at 12:10 AM. I spoke at 12:40 AM.

I want to address the issue of the Board’s incessant back-patting last night. While it is wonderful that the teachers figured out unique ways to do some teaching during the pandemic, it is important to remember, these teachers are getting paid to do their jobs. Sometimes I get the feeling that public school boards think they represent the teachers and the “Teachers’ Union” when in fact they are supposed to be representing the students, parents, and taxpayers of the district. I am so disappointed that this school board did not acknowledge the PARENTS for the work they did this year. Teachers were getting paid to teach our children even when parents are doing half the teachers’ jobs while at the same time, those parents are also doing their own jobs—hosting Zoom conference calls, trying to keep their own businesses afloat, etc. However, I know many parents who filled-in for public school teachers yet didn’t get any sort of pat on the back from our school board last night!

My own children, and the students who attend my academy did not experience any learning loss. Our students were being taught, in-person all year by courageous, diligent teachers. Our students learned all the State Standards and how to apply those standards in their lives. 

People keep asking my opinion about the two hot topics discussed at the meeting: the mask mandate and the cultural proficiency curriculum. Here are my thoughts on the mask mandate issue. The school boards were up against the State of CA and the State Board of Education pushing them to remain remote or require masks. Only a few boards chose to require students to wear masks and opened their doors to in-person learning for various grades at some point this past school year. Parents sent their children back KNOWING the rules. Afterwards, the parents claim that the masks are making their children very sick, listing a myriad of ailments their children experience daily, yet the parents keep sending them back wearing masks, day after day. At some point I would think that parents would have pulled their kids out of the toxic environment they described in such horrific detail and homeschooled them or sent them to an alternate academy like American Academy of Strategic Education. If homeschooling or private school wasn’t an option, parents could have gotten creative to figure out another solution for their children like so many other parents have done. 

The other hot topic was the new cultural proficiency curriculum. First, I want to state that it’s NOT the school’s responsibility to teach values which is what they are doing with this curriculum. Teaching values is the parents’ responsibility. No matter what the school board thinks, it isn’t their place to teach values. Although they might think they should teach values because they think they know best, but it is not their place—they are overstepping their bounds. Let parents teach the values they think are most important and schools stick to what they are paid to do—teach academics. 

Second, this curriculum might have been better received by parents had the school board posted the teachers’ lesson plans rather than a student’s version of the curriculum. Only posting the student’s version doesn’t feel 100% transparent. 

My biggest concern is that these lessons are further segregating our students rather than uniting them. For example, their discussion on bullying was really about differences in race, gender, family makeup and sexual orientation. This same lesson could be taught successfully without having to single out specific groups based on identity. This type of discussion these lessons propagate protects a select group of students while insinuating that the remaining, unprotected group, are the aggressors. 

Furthermore, it appears to me that the sample lessons they posted were actually more of a decoy for the real lessons the school board is planning to sneak into the curriculum with their book burning tactics and through implementing the new high school a-g courses such as “Equity and Access Inclusivity.”

I have two white sons who, through no fault of their own, due to programs such as this new “cultural proficiency” program, are now classified as the enemy and, although they are the nicest, kindest, most inclusive young men one could ever hope to meet, they are seen as the most hated people in America. I hope no school board adopts any kind cultural proficiency curriculum. I would rather they not perpetuate hate by focusing on differences. I want them to find a way to include and unite rather than exclude and divide. 

My final thoughts are about the parents who did what was right for their children this year. What’s right for one family is not necessarily what is right for another. There are many parents who homeschooled 100% on their own this year because they felt that was the right thing to do. I want to applaud PARENTS for all the teaching they did this year. If you are one of the millions who taught their own children this year, please give yourself a pat on the back!

I am proud that American Academy of Strategic Education could be part of the solution for many families. We had a huge influx of students in our hybrid programs. I am proud to say that our students  did not suffer a “massive learning loss” like students in public school suffered this year. American Academy of Strategic Education’s students will not have any need for “learning recovery” next year. Our students will be ahead of the curve.

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