Parents, educators and politicians react to Gavin Newsom’s acceptance of education award: ‘Slap in the face’

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Parents, educators, politicians and more have been left baffled by news that California was receiving an award from the States Education Commission after reports that it came in last in terms of learning in person during the 2020-21 school year.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, D. traveled to Washington, DC to accept the 2022 Frank Newman Award for State Innovation for California.

“The States Education Commission is pleased to honor the State of California with the 2022 Frank Newman State Innovation Award, in recognition of its coordinated approach to educating all students from preschool through postsecondary, with explicit attention to supports and services for the whole child, as well as its historic financial investments to ensure educational equity,” the group’s statement read.

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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 01: California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference after meeting with students at James Denman Middle School on October 01, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“We are officially in Bizarro World,” Corey DeAngelis, national director of research at the American Federation for Children, told Fox News Digital. “California was the worst state in the country when it came to reopening schools. Politicians backed by power-hungry teachers‘ unions put the wants of adults ahead of the needs of children. These school closures induced by unions have hurt children academically, mentally and physically. Leaders of states who have committed human rights abuses against the most vulnerable in society should be shamed and not celebrated.”

DeAngelis suggested that a few other titles would have been more appropriate.

“They should have given Governor Newsom the hypocritical education of the year award instead,” he said. “He complained about Zoom’s shitty instruction that prevailed in public schools while sending his own children to private school. I’m glad his family had this opportunity. But he should have fought for that public school children have in-person learning, and he shouldn’t struggle with school choice for less-advantaged families.

“This ‘achievement’ would be well-deserved if renamed the Award for Prioritizing Teachers Unions Over Kids. California politicians have allowed schools to remain closed more than any other state so that teachers’ unions can extort ransoms from taxpayers. children were held hostage by the system, and they still are.

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An empty school bus is pictured during a trailer through downtown Los Angeles to demand that lawmakers in Congress and California provide sufficient funding to ensure all students have the support they need for school distance learning and the eventual safe return to in-person classes during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., August 13, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake

An empty school bus is pictured during a trailer through downtown Los Angeles to demand that lawmakers in Congress and California provide sufficient funding to ensure all students have the support they need for school distance learning and the eventual safe return to in-person classes during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., August 13, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake
(Reuters/Mike Blake)

Newsom has enacted tougher coronavirus-related school measures for schools than many of his counterparts, including issuing an executive order requiring teachers to get vaccinated or take regular coronavirus tests, as well as an order for statewide mask for students and teachers.

In March 2021, a judge issued a temporary restraining order that forced Newsom to drop many of his reopening rules.

“@GavinNewsom closed public schools leaving these kids to suffer for the past two years while his kids went to private school and thrived. Now he’s getting an award? No. Just no,” Ruth Peterson, Legislative aide to State Sen. John Braun, R-Wash., tweeted.

“Everyday is a day of opposites if you’re a D who could throw a Biden ’24 race party,” CNN contributor Mary Katharine Ham wrote. “The greatest disruption to American education, unnecessarily serving a powerful child interest group, from which the marginalized have suffered the most. Come get your prize!”

California Governor Gavin Newsom, left, receives a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster shot from California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly at Asia Health Services in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

California Governor Gavin Newsom, left, receives a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster shot from California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly at Asia Health Services in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

“No one in America today has a worse academic record than Newsom,” replied California State Rep. Kevin Kiley, R.. “It’s a slap in the face to the countless underprivileged children hurt by his corrupt policies .”

“Transformative education improvements” like ranking 50th in literacy, forcing the longest school closures in the nation, and limiting school choice so low-income kids stay trapped in failing schools,” said California State Assembly candidate Josh Hoover.

Journalist Alec MacGillis shared a graph from Burbio, a school data company, showing that California comes in at the bottom in terms of the average in-person index for each state over the school year. Washington, DC, which is not shown on the chart, would have come in last, behind Golden State, according to Burbio.

Jay Bhattacharya, a professor at the Stanford School of Medicine, argued that Newsom had made education worse in California, sharing a link to a report that said standardized test scores in the state had dropped as a result of learning home. In schools that administered the tests last year, 48.9% of students met or exceeded standards in English language arts in 2021, up from 52.2% in 2019. In math, 33.6% achieved met or exceeded standards, compared to 38.2% in 2019, according to EdSource.

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Newsom easily survived a recall effort launched in June 2020 for his coronavirus response.

Fox News’ Tyler O’Neil contributed to this report.

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