Editorial: SAUSD Taxpayers Funding Political Junket For Trustees Hector Bustos and Rigo Rodriguez

By:OC Independent Editorial

Your tax dollars at work.

Last week, the Santa Ana Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously to spend $6,000 to send Trustees Hector Bustos and Rigo Rodriguez to Oakland to participate in a left-wing political conference.

Two minutes perusing the “Local Progress 2024 National Convening” website makes it clear the conference has little bearing on the nuts-and-bolts of providing SAUSD students with a quality education, and everything to do with political organizing to advance radical education ideologies and policy priorities.

The district staff report does its best to sanitize the nature of the conference, but admits it will focus on “issues related to racial and economic justice” and feature sessions “designed to empower local leaders with the skills and knowledge needed to drive progressive change in their communities” – i.e. use their positions and school district resources to push a radical ideological agenda.

Local Progress is actually two non-profits: the 501(c)3 Local Progress Impact Lab and the 501(c)4 Local Progress Policy Action. Both are political in mission and intent, and the latter can endorse candidates for office.

Local Progress encourages local school boards to emulate the example of the Culver City Unified School District weaving “equity” and Critical Race Theory ideologies throughout their curriculum:

“One of the most important goals outlined in the Equity Plan is to make ethnic studies a central focus of their curriculum. Ethnic Studies as a course comes directly from the rich history of activism that emphasized the importance of intersectionality and Critical Race Theory throughout the state of California.”

In other words, “embed” woke pedagogy throughout the curriculum so students cannot escape indoctrination.

Not that Bustos and Rodriguez need instruction or encouragement in that regard: they and their Board colleagues have been infusing SAUSD curriculum with Critical Theory ideology since taking control of the SAUSD Board of Education in November 2022.

Rodriguez, a Chicano Studies professor at Cal State Long Beach, was elected to the board in 2016. Bustos, communications director for “Latinx” political action non-profit Chispa OC, won election to the Board in 2022 by default because he was the only person to run in Trustee Area 5.

Last year, Rodriguez had the school district pay for his membership in the CEO Leadership Alliance of Orange County. Rodriguez is a partner in Capstone Solutions Consulting Group, which provides “consultation, senior-level executive coaching, board development and support, and a wide array of other organizational leadership advisory services.”

READ: Editorial: Why Is SAUSD Paying For Rigo Rodriguez’s Membership In Corporate CEO Club?

Local Progress urges school districts to use federal COVID relief funds to “advance racial and economic justice” and openly supports the “Abolish the Police” movement:

“Critically, ARP ESSER [American Rescue Plan Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief] funds must in no way be used to increase or contribute to the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline. This refers to the policies and practices that punish, isolate, marginalize, and deny access to supportive learning environments for Black, Brown, Latinx, Indigenous, immigrant, and LGBTQIA+ youth, as well as young people with disabilities, instead funneling them into the criminal legal system.”

“In 2020, due to the longstanding work of young people of color, the country saw unprecedented progress towards police-free schools. As just a few examples, Oakland voted to dismantle its school police department, and places like Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Portland, and Madison, have all ended school district contracts with police departments.”

According to the enlightened minds at Local Progress, abolishing the police and refusing to discipline disruptive or dangerous students are laudable “praiseworthy Findings from a recent national survey of young people revealed that students overwhelmingly favor additional resources and supports such as mental health resources, more teachers, and dedicated youth programs to increase college access, over increased funding for police and security. These types of “investments” that “shift school culture from punitive to supportive and in doing so, help disrupt the school to prison pipeline.”

At the top of Local Progress’ current agenda is preventing the US Supreme Court from overturning the Boise decision – which essentially created a “right” to live on the sidewalk. Boise shackles the ability of local governments to prevent people from living in parks and on sidewalks. It is the judicial underpinning of homeless encampments in public spaces – the wokesters at Local Progress think that is a good thing!

Remember, Bustos and Rodriguez are attending the “Local Progress 2024 National Convening” as school district trustees – yet Local Progress isn’t an education organization. Even groups like the California Association of Bilingual Educators that have been captured are at least bona fide educator associations. Local Progress isn’t remotely so – it is a political action organization. It’s staff roster is chock-a-block with professional political activists but nary an education program specialist. The person who runs the group’s California activities is Cudahy Councilmember Elizabeth Alcantar – a left-wing activist whose Twitter bio boasts that she’s “building progressive power in CA with @LocalProgress. “Organizer by heart and trade.”

So how does this help Santa Ana students read and do math at grade level?

It doesn’t. But that isn’t the point, Bustos – who is the communications director for another left-wing political advocacy group focused on “building power” – and Rodriguez, public education is politics. As conscious (or unconscious) disciples of Marxist critical theorist Pablo Freire, education is inescapably political – the act of teaching is a political act, and properly so. Unlike ordinary people who want their kids to be literate and educated and employable, revolutionaries like Rodriguez and Bustos see nothing wrong with bringing their politics into the classroom, the curriculum and the district bureaucracy. They view it as a moral calling.

From their perspective, there’s nothing inappropriate about making the taxpayers spend $6,000 so thy can spend a few days at what is basically a political convention.

From the perspective of normal people in the real world, Bustos and Rodriguez are free to exercise their 1st Amendment right to free political speech. But they should do it on their dime – not the taxpayers’.


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