The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) reallocated money from a fund to encourage school attendance to pay New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, who created the ahistorical “1619 Project,” $50,000 for two lectures.
Through a public records request, Oregonians for Liberty in Education, a school advocacy group, learned that the state sent Jones “a total of $50,000 … using resources from Every Day Matters,” which is a program for students struggling with attendance. The records showed the education department was planning the two separate speeches by Hannah-Jones for seven months.
The taxpayer-funded events took place in May. Hannah-Jones discussed “reframing the black experience in America’s history” and systemic racism. Just a few months prior, the University of Oregon fleshed out $25,000 of taxpayer funding as well to host the writer.
Hannah-Jones’s first speech was on “1619: Centering Black History and Black Futures in Oregon” and it was for a total of one hour and thirty minutes. Her second speech was called “A Discussion with Nikole Hannah-Jones on Centering Black Students and Families,” lasting for two hours. The $25,000 sum comes out to nearly $14,000 an hour.
“Diverting funds from ‘Every Day Matters,’ ODE’s program to provide practical solutions to support showing up for school, is concerning,” Oregonians for Liberty in Education said. “The program provides toolkits for teachers and families so at-risk students can connect to services and learn executive function skills and healthy habits. Is ODE claiming kids will skip school until the New York Times is put in charge of curriculum?”
According to Department of Education Communications Director Marc Siegel, it is fair to yank funds from a program helping kids because “centering the experience of Black students and families helps Black students feel valued, [and] reflects Blacks contribution in American history which creates Black student’s sense of belonging in the classroom.”
There were 385 teachers in attendance at Hannah-Jone’s first event and a total of 225 at the second. After being hired by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism, Hannah-Jones was denied tenure. The Marxist-flirting writer has a slated salary of $180,000 annually.
Every Day Matters became a prominent state program after a 2016 bill passed instructing the state to distribute funds “for the purpose of decreasing rates of school absenteeism.” One in six children in Oregon qualifies as chronically absent.