Governor Ducey’s $65 Million for Learning Programs Funds Social-Emotional Learning

Governor Ducey’s $65 Million for Learning Programs Funds Social-Emotional Learning

By Corinne Murdock |

Some of Governor Doug Ducey’s $65 million for learning programs announced Tuesday will fund a controversial educational method: $1.6 million for social-emotional learning (SEL). SEL grapples with emotionally-charged social issues, such as murder or the history of slavery, in order to build social and self-awareness, as well as relational skills. It serves as a vessel for fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Specifically, the $1.6 million investment comes from $20.1 million in American Rescue Plan dollars.

Ducey’s SEL funds will go to Literacy Lab’s Leading Men Fellowship, a spawn of DC Public Schools funded initially by the DC Public Education Fund (DCPEF). The fellowship only recruits male, minority high school graduates. These young men give literacy support to pre-K students for a year in a residency-style program. One of the main goals for this fellowship is “diversifying the teacher pipeline.” This fellowship has some familiar faces for Arizonans – one of DCPEF’s current board members is Everfi Co-Founder and CEO, Tom Davidson.

Everfi has come under fire by Arizonan parents due to its curriculum, which is marketed as a free extracurricular resource, and after it was discovered that Everfi was bribing teachers with $15 Amazon gift cards for referrals to other educators. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is one of Everfi’s top donors.

Everfi’s curriculum promotes diversity initiatives: in one survey, Everi asked students private questions about their home life and encouraged them to think critically about their privilege. The company also provides an “Anti-Racism Extension Guide” for teachers, which promotes a book teaching tenets of critical race theory, called “28 Common Racist Attitudes and Behaviors,” and links to the New York Times’ 1619 Project.

Last September, Everfi committed $100 million over the next three years to expanding its curriculum on social injustice and economic disparities. Two main topics that Everfi will develop are exclusively on DEI and SEL.

Arizona is not listed as one of Leading Men Fellowship’s locations as of press time. The fellowship lists activity in the Metro DC area; Central Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland; Kansas City, Missouri; Massachusetts; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Ducey classified the $65 million as program funding for K-12 literacy, adult education, and teacher professional development.

“We’re making targeted investments to connect adult students with jobs, strengthen literacy education in K-12 schools, enhance professional development for teachers, help students learn money management, expand access to high quality education, and much more,” said Ducey. “Students continue to excel in and out of the classroom as they recover from the effects of the pandemic and distance learning, and we will continue to put our resources toward helping them succeed.”

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

“There Is a Bounty On Our Children”: Peoria Mothers Light Up School Board Members

“There Is a Bounty On Our Children”: Peoria Mothers Light Up School Board Members

By Corinne Murdock |

A coalition of Peoria mothers descended on a Peoria Unified School District (PUSD) Governing Board meeting last week to demand an end to critical race theory (CRT) influences in the classroom. Near the end of their public remarks, one mother warned the board members that if they didn’t eradicate CRT from PUSD, then parents would remove their kids.

“If not parents, I want you to know this: the first 100 days of the school year, you yank your kids out of this district. And you will bankrupt this district. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about money. And we all know it. So if they don’t do it, parents – first 100 days, take your kids out. It’s not worth what you will get if you let this go full circle. If you don’t believe me, go to California.”

That mother explained that she and her family fled California after CRT in their schools destroyed their communities. She said that she’d seen how, in real time, the “flowery names” of CRT, diversity, equity, and inclusion ruined schools.

“It has not a thing to do with equality. It has to do with payback. It turned our schools into war zones. [It] was insane – the ‘inclusion’ part was really great too – they break you up into little subcategories and they pit everyone against everyone. I lived it. My 21-year-old son is still dealing with the after-effects,” said the mother. “It is a nightmare. I moved to Arizona to get away from this, only to find it to take root here. And it is on your watch. You are to be the guardians of these people’s children. I don’t want their voices heard. I want their voices listened to. You remember, you had this chance to stop what people are running from. They say 240 Californians are coming here every day. And I can tell you why. It doesn’t work.”

Some mothers presented receipts: emails obtained from open records requests. Another mother documented an email exchange involving PUSD Social Studies Curriculum and Instructional Specialist Jen Mundy, which she reported was proof that teachers were being bribed by EverFi with $15 Amazon gift cards for teacher referrals.

As AZ Free News reported, EverFi is an online educational platform that specializes in social justice curriculum. In an email copy obtained by AZ Free News, one EverFi director did offer teachers $15 Amazon gift cards for each successful referral to another teacher. As we reported previously, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is one of EverFi’s top donors.

The mother also cited an email from an elementary school principal, which reportedly called parents “wackos” for challenging the curriculum.

“‘Parents are wackos with a platform to spread propaganda.’ Does the administration not view parents as partners?” asked the mother. “We elect you, school board members. We should be partnering together. We are entrusting our children to you for their education. Are you going to continue to condone administration speaking this way about parents? Why is the administration being told to silence parents? I will not be silenced. Parents will not be silenced.”

The mother also claimed that EverFi 306: Continuing Stories, a curriculum focused on African American history, was being paid for by the NFL and Arizona Cardinals. AZ Free News has been unable to verify that claim. EverFi markets its courses as free to K-12 educators.

That mother also brought up a survey administered to students by EverFi’s Diversity Foundations program called “Recognizing Privilege.” She said that it asked children private questions about their home life.

“This is a third-party vendor that is collecting personal data on our kids. Where is this data going and how will they use it?” asked the mother.

The mother then cited remarks made during the Arizona School Boards Association’s (ASBA) annual Equity Event, which she noted some PUSD board members attended.

“One of the guest speakers, Calvin Terrell stated that: ‘White privilege families abuse IEPs [individualized educational plans] for their kids to get into Ivy League Schools.’ I have three kids on IEPs who need these plans and services to succeed in school,” said the mother. “Because my kids are white, do they fall into this statement, President Sandoval?”

While she was on the subject, the mother took a moment to criticize the ASBA’s Equity Event. She challenged PUSD Board President David Sandoval for the content and nature of that event.

“The ASBA Equity Event tries to create a divide in America by trying to shame kids into apologizing [for] something they never were. We should be teaching our kids about seeing and valuing humanity, not colors,” said the mother. “David Sandoval, your actions speak louder than any statement you give.”

Another mother, Jodi Brackett, presented a passage printed in her son’s yearbook declaring that no lives mattered until black lives mattered. As she raised the book for the board to see, attendees gasped and booed.

“This […] should never be in any kid’s yearbook: ‘All lives won’t matter until black lives matter,’” read Brackett. “That is unacceptable. And I think everyone knows that all lives matter. And this should never be advertised in a yearbook.”

Brackett also noted that CRT shouldn’t be in schools because of its Marxist elements.

Another mother pleaded with the board members to stand strong and be leaders against CRT.

“Do not lose your authenticity in an attempt to be liked by the sick-minded who are trying to convert your schools into indoctrination factories,” said the mother. “You are also parents yourselves. It is impossible to believe that you will embrace for your own kids such [a] curriculum injected with hatred and adult content materials.”

The mother noted that she couldn’t discuss some of the curriculum because it was prohibited by board rules – though her son was learning about it in class.

“The Code of Conduct when addressing the board lists ‘no political views, no sexual content.’ So I, an adult, am not allowed in this forum, to bring for show-and-tell, pornographic material or talk about sexual orientations – but you are voting to give permission to the superintendent, to in turn give permission to [the] master of curriculum to do just that,” noted the mother.

She also pointed out that the board was being hypocritical by having police present at the meeting, though they allow EverFi educational content that promotes defunding the police through its teachings on Black Lives Matter (BLM). The mother’s point earned applause.

BLM’s call for police to be defunded, #DefundthePolice, gained traction last year after the death of George Floyd.

Another mother, Gina Blair, explained that CRT would only hurt children and divide the country further.

“What happened to looking at someone’s heart and character and judging them on that very important factor only? Isn’t that the one true way to be truly non-biased [sic] and not racist?” said Blair. “Please understand we elected you as board members

Blair explained that she was very well-versed in inclusion, considering her two school-aged children have severe disabilities, and that CRT wasn’t inclusion. She said that teaching inclusion had nothing to do with modifying history.

Watch the mothers’ full remarks here:



Corinne Murdock is a contributing reporter for AZ Free News. In her free time, she works on her books and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter, @CorinneMurdock or email tips to corinnejournalist@gmail.com.

Peoria Teachers Bribed With Amazon Gift Cards To Indoctrinate Students In Online Social Justice Curriculum

Peoria Teachers Bribed With Amazon Gift Cards To Indoctrinate Students In Online Social Justice Curriculum

By Corinne Murdock |

An online social justice curriculum funded by Big Tech giants, EverFi, promised $15 gift cards to teachers who successfully got other teachers to start their students on one lesson.

According to an email obtained by the AZ Free News, Peoria Unified School District (PUSD) teachers were incentivized with $15 Amazon gift cards by an EverFi director of K-12 implementation. One of EverFi’s foremost contributors is Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos through his investment company, Bezos Expeditions.

“As a thank you, earn a $15 Amazon gift card for every teacher you refer who gets students started on one EVERFI lesson – just click the Invite a Teacher button (terms) I’m here for you – schedule a time with me to support you and/or your students,” read the email.

[pdf-embedder url=”https://secureservercdn.net/192.169.223.13/bg5.5e6.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/everfi.pdf”]

PUSD has incorporated EverFi for years, according to staffers.

Key resources highlighted on EverFi’s website focus on social-emotional learning, an offshoot of critical race theory (CRT); health care equity; and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).


https://twitter.com/EVERFI/status/1392232687692288000

Curriculum obtained by AZ Free News showed that EverFi lesson plans included the histories of Juneteenth and affirmative action, assertion of systemic racism, and the promotion of equity instead of equality.

Last September, EverFi committed $100 million to expanding their social injustice and economic inequity lenses within their K-12 education curriculum. [RELATED: EVERFI Announces $100 Million Commitment to Address Systemic Social Injustice and Economic Inequity through Free Digital Education for Nation’s K-12 Schools]

EverFi is advertised as free for K-12 teachers. The company reportedly offsets the cost through national and regional partners.

PUSD staffers confirmed that although the district has used EverFi for around a decade, educators use it sporadically. In an email obtained by AZ Free News, Executive Director of K-12 Curriculum & Professional Development Marla Hobbs claimed that few teachers utilize Everfi. She added that those who do use the resource use it on odd occasions.

EverFi was founded in 2008, with a focus on obtaining major corporate sponsors to fund their educational initiatives.

Now, over a decade later, they have accomplished just that. Some of their noteworthy contributors over the years include Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO; Evan Williams, founder of Twitter, Medium, and Blogger; and Eric Schmidt, Google Executive Chairman.

Other big businesses also have their hands in Arizona’s public education. Companies like Boeing and Wells Fargo are part of the Arizona Educational Foundation Board, an initiative focused on bringing social justice to classrooms. The Arizona Educational Foundation has pushed a program called “Our World,” which aims to provide educator and business training and workshops on antiracism, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Much like EverFi, Our World is free of charge to Arizona schools.

Corinne Murdock is a contributing reporter for AZ Free News. In her free time, she works on her books and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter, @CorinneMurdock or email tips to corinnejournalist@gmail.com.