California school district pays social justice group millions to train high school students as political activists

A group of social justice activists in California received nearly $2 million in taxpayer funds to train public school students and teachers in “equity” leadership and activism.

At least 78…

A group of social justice activists in California received nearly $2 million in taxpayer funds to train public school students and teachers in “equity” leadership and activism.

At least 78 public high school students were paid $1,400 each to become social justice warriors as part of the contracts awarded to Californians for Justice (CFJ) by the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD).

An investigation by The Free Press revealed Long Beach students received the funds to join a CFJ club and participate in its political activities since 2019. 

“Californians for Justice has trained hundreds of youth of color in Long Beach to be community leaders and organizers,” the group boasts on its website. “CFJ youth have gone on to attend universities and to work in their communities as change makers and leaders.” 

Though taxpayers funded CFJ for its activist training, the school district is not involved in the actual instruction, wrote Francesca Block at The Free Press. Instead, a district spokesperson referred to the “stipends” given to students for their social justice work as “internships.” 

Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and David Randall, director of research at the National Association of Scholars and executive director of its Civics Alliance, have both warned of the spread of such “action civics” programs in public schools since the onset of the Common Core State Standards. 

Under the Obama and Biden administrations, both scholars foresaw how tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT) would be promoted even to include students earning course credit – and, in the case of Long Beach, actual money – for participation in left-wing political activity. 

“Bribing students to engage in political activism is straight up abuse of young people, not to mention abuse of the public trust,” Kurtz told The Lion. “It’s also the logical outcome of ‘action civics,’ the practice of pushing students to engage in after-school politics for course credit.  

“Parents and voters need to understand that there’s a national movement to mandate action civics in schools across the country. States and school districts should act to ban action civics now.” 

In comments to The Lion, Randall agreed: “Action civics is meant to produce radicalized political outcomes. The precise content changes with the year, but the radicalizing push is constant. A host of different NGOs push variations, under different names, into the schools.” 

Indeed, four Long Beach teachers interviewed by Block described the student and family funding for social justice political activities as a “horrible propaganda strategy.” They drew attention to events such as CFJ’s student-led trainings for teachers on “implicit bias,” “student voice” and “antiblack racism.” 

“[I]n reality, CFJ is not helping students find their own voices,” history teacher Jay Goldfischer reportedly said. “It’s giving them a scripted voice that’s not their own.” 

Goldfischer, who is Jewish, asserted CFJ is also not “inclusive,” noting the group, in an Instagram post following Hamas’ invasion of Israel in October, described Palestinians as having experienced an “ethnic cleansing and apartheid orchestrated by white supremacist settler colonialism bent on the goal of wiping out the indigenous Palestinian population.” 


CFJ touts its mission as a “statewide youth-powered organization fighting for racial justice,” and, using controversial disparate impact statistics, says Long Beach USD “struggles with racial disparities.” 

“Students of color are underrepresented in district college-prep and honors courses but overrepresented in school discipline cases,” CFJ reportedly claimed. “In 2016-17, 8.4% of Black students, 5.2% of Native American students, and 4.7% of Pacific Islander students in LBUSD were suspended compared to 1.7% of White students (CA Dashboard).” 

However, a member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission wrote in July 2019 at National Review that the use of disparate-impact theory and statistics “to interpret racial disparities in school discipline as evidence of racial discrimination” not only misleads but also “stokes resentment and erodes personal responsibility.”  

Peter Kirsanow, who is black, noted that leftist believe “any racial disparity necessarily means invidious racial discrimination.”  

“It’s undisputed that black students, as a group, are disciplined more than white students,” he wrote, pointing out, nevertheless, that the left has failed to produce any evidence “that discipline disparities aren’t due to disparities in behavior.” 

Kirsanow highlighted a statement by his colleague, Commissioner Gail Heriot, who also wrote at the time that what accounts for differing rates of misbehavior among students of color “likely” includes “differing rates of poverty, differing rates of fatherless households, differing parental education, differing achievement in school, and histories of policy failures and injustices.” 

CFJ’s philosophy, however, is in keeping with one of the Biden administration’s first executive orders and the U.S. Education Department’s 2022 “Equity Plan.” 

“Consistent with the priorities of the Biden-Harris Administration, the Department has and is focused on strengthening the agency’s processes, policies, strategies, and culture to ensure equity is the foundation upon which all decisions and protocols rest, and to strengthen the agency’s work and build on its impact,” the department said. 

But national parental rights organization Parents Defending Education (PDE) sees “action civics” programs, such as the one at Long Beach, as serving the purpose of propaganda, rather than instruction.  

“Students are being trained in a very specific ideology and then paid to push that set of beliefs on others,” Erika Sanzi, PDE director of outreach, said in comments to The Lion. “They’ve been turned into taxpayer funded propagandists and that is just wrong.”