Governor Announces Contract to Secure Textbooks for Students in Temecula

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Special to the Vanguard

Sacramento, CA – Following the Temecula Valley Unified School District’s failure to adopt an updated social studies curriculum, today Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state is entering into a contract to secure textbooks to ensure students in the district begin the school year with access to up-to-date books and materials that comply with state law. Elementary students in Temecula are slated to begin the school year on August 14, 2023, without proper instructional materials – in violation of state law – because of the school board’s 3-2 majority’s repeated decision to reject an updated curriculum.

“The three political activists on the school board have yet again proven they are more interested in breaking the law than doing their jobs of educating students — so the state will do their job for them,” said Governor Newsom. “California will ensure students in Temecula begin the school year with access to materials reviewed by parents and recommended by teachers across the district. After we deliver the textbooks into the hands of students and their parents, the state will deliver the bill — along with a $1.5 million fine — to the school board for its decision to willfully violate the law, subvert the will of parents, and force children to use an out-of-print textbook from 17 years ago.”

Due to the board majority’s inaction, students in the district are forced to use a textbook published in 2006. According to the district’s own documents published online, the district is out of compliance with at least three separate state laws and frameworks with its current curriculum. Last week, the Governor and state leaders demanded the school district follow the law and adopt an updated curriculum. Yesterday, July 18, 2023, the school board again voted by a 3-2 majority to reject the adoption of a new social studies curriculum that was recommended by teachers representing every elementary school in the district and reviewed by parents and community members.

The textbook the state is securing on behalf of the school district is part of one of the four standard programs approved by the state and is routinely and widely used across hundreds of school districts in California. During the last academic year, the curriculum was piloted by nearly 1,300 families in Temecula classrooms and was recommended by teachers representing every elementary school in the district and overwhelmingly supported by parents and community members. Materials were available for public and parent review for months. According to the school district, during the community feedback period, 98.8% of parents, educators, and community members expressed being supportive or impartial to the adoption.

The Governor is working with the Legislature and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond to enact legislation to impose fines on any school district that fails to provide adequate instructional materials. California provides instruction and support services to roughly 5.9 million students in grades transitional kindergarten through twelve in more than 1,000 districts and over 10,000 schools throughout the state. Under Governor Newsom’s leadership, education funding is at a record high in California, totaling $129.2 billion in the 2023-24 budget.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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19 Comments

    1. Ron Oertel

      After we deliver the textbooks into the hands of students and their parents, the state will deliver the bill — along with a $1.5 million fine — to the school board for its decision to willfully violate the law, subvert the will of parents, and force children to use an out-of-print textbook from 17 years ago.”

      Seems to me that the governor is “subverting the will of parents” in this district, given that they (among others) elected the school board in the first place.

      Also, “who” do you think the bill and fine will ultimately “hurt” – assuming it’s even enforceable in the first place? My guess is that this board tells the governor to take a flying leap.

      None of this has anything to do with the book itself (which isn’t even discussed on here).

      This entire article (as well as the last one regarding this issue) seems like a press release from the governor’s office – and one in which we’re “supposed to” say yay, I guess.

      This seems more like a culture war that both sides have inflicted upon kids than it does actual education needed for them to succeed. Pretty sure it has nothing to do with (for example) algebra.

      1. David Greenwald

        “Seems to me that the governor is “subverting the will of parents” in this district, given that they (among others) elected the school board in the first place.”

        The problem is that the school board is subverting state law and that trumps any notion of the “will of parents.”

        1. Keith Olsen

          The problem is that the school board is subverting state law and that trumps any notion of the “will of parents.”

          How many times has California and Newsom subverted federal laws for left leaning reasons?  Did you say that was a problem then?  Maybe the Temecula School Board is being heroic and needs to lead the way against the state and its rampant push for leftist agendas in school text books.

          1. David Greenwald

            The state has direct authority over local districts in the Education Code. The state-local relations are not analogous to federalism.

          1. David Greenwald

            The Governor or Department of Education has the ability to actually take over the governance of a school district.

        2. Ron Oertel

          The Governor or Department of Education has the ability to actually take over the governance of a school district.

          I say, “go for it”.

          They can run every school district in the state, while also overseeing local zoning/land use.

          The problem is that the school board is subverting state law and that trumps any notion of the “will of parents”.

          Well, then the state isn’t actually concerned about the “will of parents” – despite what they claimed in the press release.

          Somehow, I doubt that this one book is specifically-codified into state law.  But hey, if the governor wants to make this an issue, again I say “go for it”. Go ahead and charge them, fine them, perhaps get Rob Bonta to bring charges, etc. I’m sure that doing so won’t ultimately hurt the kids in that district.

          Yay! (That’s supposed to be our reaction, right?)

          By the way, how are the kids actually performing in this district, and in most districts across the state? You know, in regard to skills they actually need to get a job? (Rather than worrying about whether or not Harvey Milk is a hero, for example?) I had to look this up “elsewhere”, to see what this is supposedly all about – as it’s not even discussed in this press release.

          (Of course, the governor himself doesn’t have to be concerned about such things in regard to his own family, since his kids attend private school.)

        3. Walter Shwe

          How many times has California and Newsom subverted federal laws for left leaning reasons? 

          Unless you can cite specific instances, your question is actually a lie. The Temecula school board is subverting state law for solely right leaning reasons.

          1. David Greenwald

            Keith – working on a revised commenting policy, but as Don noted, the back and forth here was not helpful.

  1. Don Shor

    There is a process for adopting curriculum that involves input from dozens or even hundreds of parents. Every parent can view the curriculum materials. They are trialed in different classrooms and input from teachers is also sought. 

    I’ve been on curriculum committees in DJUSD. It is actually a very rigorous process requiring more than a facile review of the textbooks. I can say from having participated actively in those processes that the content of the materials is best left to professional educators who know the range and level appropriate to the different age groups. What we have here are folks trying to dictate the curriculum content by going outside of that regular review process, singling out specific hot-button cultural issues without evaluating the context. They are effectively dismissing and disrespecting the parents and teachers who spent many hours reviewing the materials, testing them in actual classroom settings, and doing the hard work of assessing the overall effectiveness and breadth of content. 

    This school board majority specifically objected to the mention of Harvey Milk in some history curriculum. It would be hard to discuss the presence of the gay rights movement in American politics without mentioning Supervisor Milk, his historic political victory and, of course, the tragic assassination of Milk and Moscone. Those are all significant milestones that affected California politics dramatically in many ways (Feinstein had been planning to retire from politics when the killings thrust her into leadership of the SF board of supervisors). 

    Called on this act of singling out one specific individual and essentially objecting only to the LGBTQ content, the conservative board majority went on to say that not enough parents had participated in the evaluation, which is utterly preposterous, and then we get comments like this:

    “When I look at the … curriculum, I don’t see American exceptionalism. I don’t see all the things that we need to see …” (Jen Wiersma of the board majority).

    It might be very interesting for students to learn about how the meaning of “American exceptionalism” has changed over the decades, but that’s probably a topic for high school civics classes. 

    And the board chair referred to those who were objecting as “parents and patriots.”

    No, dude. You don’t get to co-opt “patriots” for your right wing agenda. We’re all patriots.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Have you read the book in question, yourself?  I have not.

      You seem to be assuming that parents were participants in the selection process in the first place.  The same parents who elected this board.

      Overall (beyond this one incident) what we have here is a political battle, with actual education as a pawn. I learned about the gay rights movement OUTSIDE of the classroom. Anyone who pays any attention to the news knows about it, already.

      There is a perception (based at least partly upon reality) that education is increasingly being used to advance political/cultural preferences of governing entities.  Again, not just with this one issue.

      Vilifying one side or the other only drives people further apart.  And when it comes to folks’ children, they tend to be rather-protective and reactive to perceived threats – whether or not it’s “justified”.

    2. Ron Oertel

      I tried to add, but was cut-off:

      It would be helpful if the governor exhibited a little more understanding, rather than threatening his own constituents.  Which he has repeatedly-resorted to in regard to other issues, as well.

      Perhaps that’s a way for him to “score” political points with those who already support him, or a sign of his “confidence” in the existing one-party system.

      Either way, it’s not “helping”.

      This is how Trump operates (e.g., constant threats). Perhaps that’s a reason that Newsom seemed to get along with him?

      Like Trump, he seems to thrive by creating or participating in battles. I don’t recall Jerry Brown “seeking out” this type of publicity.

      I suspect that in the end, he often ends up “quietly backing down”, sometime after the “loud threats”. (We’ve already seen him “quietly adjust” his housing plans, for example.)

      I am not a fan of this style of governance. It consists of hubris, rather than humility.

    1. Ron Oertel

      That’s too bad. I hate to see bullying from officials “work”.

      But perhaps you can “give a school district a book, but you can’t make them read it”.  Especially if the parents don’t want their kids to do so, and the school is sympathetic to them.

      Truth be told, I suspect that the book is rather inoffensive.  Much ado about nothing, as they say.

      1. Ron Oertel

        I do question this, however (from your link):

        Those textbooks do not comply with a 2011 state law that requires schools to teach students about the historical contributions of gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

        Does this mean that they’re going to search through all of the “historical contributions” made by humanity, to ensure that at least one member of this group is specifically mentioned – including their sexual orientation or gender? 

        They’re going to start “researching” the sexual orientation of (for example), the individuals who invented cars, assembly lines, airplanes, computers, cell phones, etc.? And won’t stop until they can “verify” and report on that individuals’ sexual preference or gender identity?

        Or does it mean something more akin to advancement of civil rights, for that particular group (e.g., being the first “openly-gay” supervisor)?

        (I think I know the answer to this.)

        But what about all of the other “groups” (e.g., by skin color/race, sex, etc.)?  Do specific examples have to be found and mentioned regarding them, as well – in order to “prove” something?

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