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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

California squanders hundreds of millions on critical race theory education in schools, government – OCRegister

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During difficult times like these, leadership matters. And every dollar counts. That’s why many Californians may be shocked to find out that up to a billion dollars that could have been used to help residents were spent on radical diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programming.
Documents received through public records requests show California’s taxpayer-funded entities are being schooled on some extreme viewpoints, including that racism is “epidemic” in America, the U.S. is a “colonial” and “oppressive” society, and support for defunding the police.
A new report from the Center for Organizational Research and Education estimates uncovered $500 million spent on training, books, high-dollar diversity consultants, and other materials aimed at promoting DEI, primarily in fiscal years 2020 and 2021.
After reviewing thousands of pages of records obtained through nearly 400 California Public Records Act requests, we identified spending at all levels of public administration – in the state’s K-12 schools, universities, agencies, and local governments.
Universities alone spent $90 million on critical race theory initiatives, including “anti-bias training,” “symposia on equity, diversity, and inclusion,” and “building allies among faculty members holding nonminority identities.”
Our sample of sixteen K-12 schools spent more than $35 million alone. Californians – who have an average of $37,000 in student loan debt and spent two years teaching their children at home – likely would prefer to see that money wisely spent.
What’s more shocking is that these DEI programs have moved far beyond the classroom and into every aspect of California’s government. Including where it makes the least sense.
Consider the Department of Conservation. During some of the worst wildfires in state history, the Department of Conservation spent $180,000 on DEI items, including $88,000 for well-connected consultants to teach workers critical race theory.
One “high priority” email we reviewed discussed buying $9,000 worth of Ibram X. Kendi’s book “How to be Anti-Racist” so the books could be distributed to “Supervising” and “Senior” oil and gas engineers in the Department’s Geologic Energy Management division.The Department of Water Resources is also spending taxpayers’ dollars on DEI. The department’s Office of Workplace Equality has an ever-growing budget of nearly $1 million, which includes a full-time “DEI staff person” with a plush salary of $171,747.
Do taxpayers really want these agencies tackling critical race theory? Or would they prefer better forest management, fewer fires, and a safe and stable drinking supply?
The Department of Fish and Wildlife dropped $95,000 on contracts for “racial equity” training. California High Speed Rail Authority budgeted to spend $29,000 on consultants to form a Diversity Task Force. The Office of Environmental Health and Hazard Assessment has similarly budgeted to spend over $131,000 on diversity consultants.
I could go on.
Californians are not bigoted monsters in need of half a billion dollars of DEI reforms. While there’s certainly a time and place for continued education about how to avoid discrimination, it cannot possibly cost $500 million to address infrequent workplace issues.
Instead, DEI has become a cottage industry — funded by taxpayers.
California has quickly become the epicenter of Indoctrination, Inc. Consultants with friends in high places charge taxpayers hundreds per hour to push divisive narratives about “white fragility” to people who are supposed to be out fighting fires, protecting the water supply, and helping the state meet the needs of its people.

Taxpayers are footing the bill for six-figure salaries for hundreds of DEI staff members who are dedicated to finding problems where they may not even exist. Meanwhile, these same agencies are failing to provide the most basic services for Californians, including safe neighborhoods, running water, and a sustainable environment.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. The identified $500 million figure is a conservative one: our review doesn’t include nearly half of the public entities we contacted, which either failed to respond or delayed fulfillment of our request for various reasons. As a result, it is conceivable that the true magnitude of DEI spending in the Golden State is as much as double this amount, leaving Californians to pick up a billion-dollar tab.
California is no stranger to big spending on policy ideas unprecedented in other states – but maybe instead taxpayer dollars would be better spent on the Golden State’s many more pressing crises.
Will Coggin is a researcher at the Center for Organizational Research and Education.
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