'Indoctrination not information:' Activist group paying California high schoolers to push social justice, other far-left ideals

LONG BEACH, CA- An activist group in California, known as Californians for Justice (CFJ), has been making waves within public high schools, particularly in the Long Beach Unified School District, by advocating for racial and social justice.

The group's influence, fueled by significant funding from the school district, has ignited both praise and criticism, raising questions about its impact on students and the educational system as a whole.

Contracts obtained by The Free Press reveal the extent of financial support provided by the Long Beach Unified School District to CFJ.

Over the period from 2019 to 2023, the district allocated nearly $2 million in taxpayer funds to the organization. These funds were earmarked for equity and leadership development training aimed at both students and teachers.

As part of these initiatives, CFJ has been paying nearly 100 public high schoolers $1,400 each to participate in programs designed to cultivate "community leadership and advocacy skills."

Since December 2019, CFJ has engaged at least 78 students in its programs, demonstrating its significant presence and influence within the Long Beach community.

The organization's efforts have resulted in the implementation of restorative justice practices across 84 schools in the district, signaling a tangible impact on educational policies and practices.

Despite CFJ's stated goals of promoting "diversity and inclusivity," its methods have come under scrutiny.

Some critics view the stipends offered to students as a form of "propaganda strategy," arguing that they incentivize participation rather than genuine engagement.

Furthermore, concerns have been raised about the replacement of traditional teacher training sessions with CFJ-led sessions, where students are encouraged to educate their teachers on topics such as implicit bias and anti-black racism.

According to one teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to concerns about job security, the forums facilitated by CFJ have evolved into platforms for students to voice grievances about school.

“It’s helpful to hear their voice and know what they think would help them learn better," the teacher said, "but I feel like you can do that with a focus group. Plus, they’re obviously reading scripts that have words that they don’t know how to say. The way that they are handing scripts to students, even the words coming out of the students’ mouths, it just feels like indoctrination and not information.”

Jay Goldfischer, a history teacher at the local high school, shares the sentiment, adding, “One of the reasons that they were hired is to help our students find their voice and be able to express it. But in reality, CFJ is not helping students find their own voices. It’s giving them a scripted voice that’s not their own. They’re teaching them parroting, which is the exact opposite of how you empower children.”

This shift has sparked debates among educators about the effectiveness and appropriateness of such initiatives.

CFJ's origins trace back to 1996 when it was founded in San José by California activists. Initially focused on policy advocacy, the organization later transitioned to working directly with schools in the mid-2000s. With nearly $16 million in total assets, CFJ operates statewide, running programs in several major California school districts, including Fresno, Oakland, San José, and Long Beach.

While CFJ presents itself as a champion of racial justice, its messaging has not been without controversy. One contentious issue revolves around CFJ's stance on international conflicts, such as the conflict in Israel and Palestine.

Following the Hamas invasion of Israel in October 2024, CFJ posted on Instagram describing the situation as "ethnic cleansing and apartheid orchestrated by white supremacist settler colonialism bent on the goal of wiping out the indigenous Palestinian population."

This statement sparked criticism from some teachers, parents, and community members who perceived it as antisemitic and one-sided. Despite the backlash, CFJ continues to enjoy support from some quarters within the Long Beach Unified School District.

Dissenting voices within the community remain apprehensive about the long-term implications of CFJ's partnership with the school district, expressing concerns about potential misinformation and ideological indoctrination among students.

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