Armstrong School District has paid over $800,000 for SEL curricula to organizations that support DEI initiatives


*Update: This post (and the headline) was updated on January 10, 2024 to reflect a correction to the amount of money spent—this was done in response to an email from the Armstrong School District received on January 10, 2024. They informed us that one of the pieces of information they sent us in response to our public records request was sent by mistake and incorrectly inflated the total amount spent.

The correct total of $819,277.02 is now reflected in the headline above, in the text of the district’s email to us (see below) and in our write-up.

Here is a the relevant content of that email:

The district received a Right to Know Request dated 10/23/2023 from Marissa Fallon of Parents Defending Education out of Arlington VA. The requests asked for invoices from Amplify (CKLA) and Character Strong

The district submitted 4 invoices and 1 quote, the quote should not have been submitted through the request. 

The invoices were for the following:

1. Character Strong – $80,138.60 paid with funds from the General Fund. This was for curriculum and professional development.

2. Amplify – $27,196.26 paid with ESSER Learning Loss Funds. This was for the PILOT of the K-5 CKLA Reading Curriculum.

3. Amplify – $699,176.40 paid with ESSER III Funds and ESSER 7% Learning Loss Funds. This invoice is for the K-5 CKLA Curriculum.

4. Amplify – $12,740.75 paid with funds from the General Fund. This was for additional materials needed for the K-5 CKLA Curriculum.

The one figure that was included in the article for $696,917.46 was the original quote for the CKLA Curriculum, the quote was provided to you through the RTK request, this was the original quote for the curriculum, when the district ordered the curriculum, the final cost was actually $699,176.40. The additional $696,917.46 (Quote) was never spent on these items. That amount inflated the overall cost up to the $1.5 million as misstated in the article.

The total amount spent was not $1.5 million it was actually $819,277.02.

I would appreciate a response to this email and well as a correction to the article. 

All text above was taken directly from the email we received from the district. We have since corrected the information on our website.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. 

Parents Defending Education submitted a public records request seeking invoices that Armstrong School District has with companies that provide Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curricula and that promote DEI initiatives. The school district provided PDE with four invoices that totaled more than $800,000.The largest of the invoices is dated March 27, 2023, and is from the organization Amplify Education. This invoice is for $699,176.40. This was paid for with ESSER III Funds and ESSER 7% Learning Loss Funds. Additional invoices with Amplify Education included a cost of $27,176.26 on July 12, 2022, and a cost of $12,740.76 on May 11, 2023.

The school district also has an invoice with CharacterStrong for $80,183.60 that is dated January 3, 2023. This invoice was for SEL curricula and professional development.

Amplify Education has a “DEIA Statement” posted online that claims the organization implements the “identities” of students into their curricula: “We help teachers craft rigorous learning experiences that reflect the diverse histories, cultures, and identities their students bring to the classroom.”

Amplify Education has a “DEIA Statement.”

CharacterStrong also has an “Equity Commitment” posted online. The organization will be “focusing on recruiting potential CS employees, vendors, and contractors from diverse spaces around the country in order to bring more voices into the development of our work” and “maintaining an accountability chart instead of an organization chart to promote less hierarchical decision making.” For teachers, equity initiatives include “developing tools like the Equity Training to deepen personal awareness, better understand our biases, and build skills that help people better serve the entire school community.” The organization also will be “recognizing land acknowledgments” and “personal pronouns.”