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Sleight of Hand in California Schools: The State Seal of Civic Engagement

By: Kenny

What else has been happening while everyone was focused on Ethnic Studies? Why, more Ethnic Studies, with a whole mess of Intersectionality, of course!

The California State Seal of Civic Engagement, which can be found on the pages was signed into law in 2017 by Jerry Brown. The law required that the State Superintendent of Instruction (SSPI) to recommend a criteria to the State Board of Education (SBE) for interested students to earn a seal on their Diploma, which was done and adopted by the SBE on September 10, 2020. This appears to be an optional program, but be warned: the curriculum is designed for even elementary school, which would lead one to conclude that the districts/schools adopting this program are gearing for a K-12 program of “social justice” indoctrination, Ethnic Studies/CRT style. Students can also earn the seal through any history, government, or civics class that focuses on “character education” and “provides voluntary participation in community or extracurricular activities”.

Resources for this program can also be found on the pages, which is where we need to start in order to see what is in it. It seems overwhelming at first, there is so much information and so many individuals, organizations, and foundations to vet, it boggles the mind.

I took the Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus approach— Falseness in one thing, discredits it in its entirety. I apply this to research, theories, theorists, resources, and practice (lessons), all of which can be found on the resource pages. Care to go on a journey through the insidious California Education with me?

For those that stayed for the journey, welcome. Let’s start with who are the partners? Partners can indicate the leaders of the thought movement, the drivers of the program, and where most educators will go for resources. We see from this screenshot that the CDE “encourages LEAs [local education agencies] to work with local and statewide organizations to develop local criteria….” The way this is reading so far, is anyone else expecting BLM to pop up at any moment? Yeah, me too but let’s see.

There are six partners listed—each one with its own set of influencers, theorists, activists, and partners of their own! This is where it gets burdensome, there is so much here, much written in gobbledygook, that it could discourage one from going further. False in one, false in all.

It is important to note that if we read through the Criteria and Implementation it does not sound all that bad, in fact, it looks ready for the 1776 Curriculum…at first glance.

The first partner is listed as Authentic Preparation Today Work Group. When you click through, you land on—jump right to the About Us page to see who they are. Wow! So many!

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I feel like I’m guest hosting Romper Room—I see CTA, I see CTE, I see school board members from Davis and Oakland, I see R. Tolteka from the Ethnic Studies and Social Justice Educational Leaders board of directors, I see Michelle Alas of GENup, I see, ad infimum. I see Marxists.

Rather than vet each one of these people, how about we look at a few random ones and see how we fare in the realm of alsus in uno, falsus in omnibus? Works for me too.

Michelle Alas of GENup is up. I could not find Michelle on this page but look at that landing page! Not quite BLM. Kids having a good time? My guess, from visage of most, is this was a class assignment, a few look rather serious though… why so serious?

Oh. My goodness.

Before I move on from this source, My Cousin Vinny Style, take a quick peek at all of the About Us tabs. Go ahead, I’ll wait. See it? Most of everyone has identified their preferred pronouns. <eye roll> Now take a gander at the partner page, if you don’t want to that’s okay, it is just the usual suspects of activists, democrats, teachers, and organizations with March! in their name. Okay, “I’m finished with this guy”.

Next up, Californians For Justice—I’ll save some time, just go right to the resources page.

More Race division, more intersectionality, more activism… look around more if you like but they just got Vinnied.

Who next? Ah, California Courts, that doesn’t sound so bad—I will pause as you roll your eyes and/or curse like a sailor at that statement. If you didn’t do either, please take a second and do one or the other. I know, I know, you read that landing page and it really doesn’t sound all that bad. Yeah… jump ahead three pages with me to this sample lesson on Freedom of expression and the First Amendment.

First off, “Freedom of Expression” is not in the First Amendment, nor anywhere in the Bill of Rights. This lesson centers on Freedom of Speech, however, specifically in schools. That in and of itself is not the problem though. I have taught Government for 15 years or so and have used the Tinker and Fredrick Supreme Court Cases often for the simple demonstration that the Bill of Rights can be limited in schools. The problem is that while those primary sources are legit, they don’t really have anything to do with the stated objectives.

Now take a look at the Activity Steps:

Neither of the cases that this lesson presents—and I mean really presents! They include more pages from Supreme Court decision than any small army of high school seniors would ever read! But back to the point. The hook is the school Dress Code—trust me, this hook is as old and tired—and they can re-write it at the end. They then go right to symbols…. neither case I mentioned deals with symbols, and once you know SCOTUS says schools can limit speech, why bother debating the dress code?

The lesson makes a big deal about the symbols, expand the materials tab for some interesting artifacts. First is the symbol matrix:

Hmmm. See that Gay Pride symbol research link? Well, it is a dead link. Veteran readers know exactly what happens next…we take a trip to the Wayback Machine. What the ever-loving…? I have no idea why kids need to learn this.

The rest of the lesson is left to the teacher to interpret, sorry “facilitate” a discussion on what those symbols mean but again, the court cases have nothing to do with any of them. Clearly, the focus of the lesson is on these “symbols” and not on the first amendment at all— none of these are illegal in the real world, nor at most schools (drugs + firearms excepted).



The California History-Social Science Project at UC Davis. UC Davis, Vinnied with this simple google search, but go ahead look around. Hereis a highlight from that search in case you would rather not click through google, but you still might want to scroll through all of the results.


The Civic Engagement Research Group, or CERG leads us to Does it seem odd to anyone else at this point that the landing pages are so often called something entirely different than listed on the CDE page? But I digress. CERG is based at UC Riverside and links to the Leveraging Equity and Access in Democratic Education (LEADE), which is also housed at UC Riverside and UCLA. The remaining link on the CDE page is CLIC and refers back to LEADE. So, I will wrap this up, and boy are we going out with a boom!

To make a long story short, skip right to the Digital Tool Kit. We are going to end with a video but first you should see this.

This page informs us what formed the foundation for the video lesson I will show you. Click on Evans, Christina and we end up at Connected Learning Go ahead and click that—never mind, I have to show you, we just hit the easter egg! Drumroll please.

Vinnied, but I promised a video. This video is a lesson in a Chicago classroom to teach students how to identify misinformation, or “fake news” as it is often referred to as by the teacher. The lesson uses a twitter video from Alex Jones—Alex Jones! I could say a lot about AJ but now is not the time. Even coming from AJ it seemed sarcastic, however.

The lesson also uses a Twitter post from a talk show host Mark Simone (never heard of him). I don’t know, might be off by house or two, or not the biggest mansion?

We are not shown the rest but they are a Facebook post, a YouTube video, and an Onion article. Yes, they fact-check satire and call it “fake news”! Maybe the ones they don’t show us are Mother Jones or CNN, but I highly doubt it. In fairness, it appears that the lesson does address this fake news about Trump, but that does not negate the obvious bias.

Notice also that the bias could not be clearer! Look at the background of the classroom, those posters, all Pro-Democrat took some time! At 4:35 you will see that they debunk an AOC article from using far-left “fact-checking” PolitiFact. Yes, the source has “satire” right there in the name and yes, PolitiFact (and this class) actually spent time debunking it.

One other last thing. This is the last thing, I promise, then the video. The bias in this lesson makes me ashamed of my profession, it is 5 minutes or so of pure indoctrination and only goes one way—Orange man bad, all democrats good. Chant 100 times. A REAL lesson in misinformation but would look something like this:

The Obama Administration, Adam Schiff, and others shout from the front-side of every available camera that they have seen indisputable proof that President Trump colluded with the Russians to steal the 2016 election (but did no audits and 2020 was the most secure ever). But in secret testimony, that President Trump, through DNI Ric Grenell, had declassified, admitted they never saw any proof, of any kind, in any shape or form. Now that is a lesson on misinformation.

Here is the video, it is the one under Investigation and Research in case the link does not work.

Double Vinnied.

FYI. at least one Coachella Valley High School is currently looking for a coordinator, which implies more than a class. I cannot attest if other schools are looking to do the same or if they already have the program installed.

Thanks for reading, feel free to share at will!

-Kenny, From the Tavern