Texas parents are pushing back against the Fort Worth Independent School District spending $2 million on “equity” consultants after student literacy and math performance declined during school shutdowns.
“Fort Worth was struggling with literacy and math scores before the pandemic. The fact that they have escalated their spending on what they call equity, to over $2 million, is a huge concern. We have seen a major plunge in their academic achievement since the beginning of COVID,” Erika Sanzi, the director of outreach at Parents Defending Education, told “Fox & Friends” on Thursday.
“What I find sort of fascinating, but also very sad, is that they talk a lot about equity and excellence and the need for children to feel like they belong. And I can’t imagine a more basic and fundamental way to help children feel that way then to ensure that they can read on grade level and that they are strong readers for the rest of their lives,” she added.
According to the Texas Tribune, Fort Worth Independent School District had 82,704 students, and 65% of students were considered at risk of dropping out of school as of the 2019-2020 school year.
The paper reported that “only 12 percent of students have mastered their grade level in reading, only 15 percent in math, and only 8 percent in writing … Yet in 2019, only 34 percent of Fort Worth ISD third-grade students were reading at or above their grade level, according to State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) data, down slightly from the year before.”
Fort Worth Independent School District students performed poorly in math and English as of Spring 2021, according to a STAAR report. The data shows that 53% did not meet expectations for Algebra I and 51 percent did not meet expectations for English I.
The Texas school district spent more than $2 million last year on equity and diversity consulting – including more than $200,000 to its “chief equity officer” after embracing critical race theory and declaring “racial injustice is systemic and deeply rooted in the history of our country,” according to a new report.
The Fort Worth Independent School District budgeted more than $1.3 million for equity operating expenses and almost $800,000 for the salaries of eight employees, according to the Texas Scorecard, a nonprofit libertarian publication.
The leader of the district’s equity and excellence department, Sherry Breed, took home $202,318, according to the report. Two executive directors, Mia Hall and Dorene Benavidez, earned $128,134 and $124,068, respectively.
In 2016, the district’s board of trustees established the equity and excellent department “for the purpose of fighting against systemic racism directly.”
The department’s handbook states that it will teach participants “a working understanding of critical race theory (CRT) and its central tenets” as part of its professional development program.
Sanzi acknowledged that there are “very robust conversations to be had about complex issues facing our society that include racial justice and other topics.” She said, however, there are “developmentally inappropriate materials being brought to children who are way too young to understand them.”
“We learned that they were spending over $2 million in this district because a local media outlet went digging for information and they found it,” she said, arguing that the money could be spent instead on a “huge” number of reading specialists.
The district did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Fox News Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.