Today's deep question: Do all California's education-equity execs live in Texas?

AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File

Answer: Nope. One of them lived in Philadelphia, for instance. However, the latest California education executive to be discovered by Politico living out of state tendered her resignation … from Dallas:

A second high-ranking California Department of Education official has resigned because she lives out of state.

Pamela Kadakia served as a CDE equity project manager but resides in Texas, based on public records and her LinkedIn profile. …

Kadakia’s LinkedIn profile shows she pursued her doctorate in education at Texas A&M University from 2019 to 2021. Prior to joining CDE, she taught for more than four years at Richland College in Dallas, Texas.

Records show Kadakia, 34, lives in the Dallas area, where she and her husband purchased a home in 2019. She appears to have worked in Texas since 2016, according to LinkedIn, but originally hails from California, graduating from Walnut High School in east Los Angeles County and earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cal State Fullerton.

Not only are California state employees generally prohibited from living out of state, but they are banned from traveling to Texas and 17 other states deemed to have discriminatory laws.

As a newly minted Texan, that irony makes my day. Gavin Newsom made a big show of launching that ban — which most Texans likely appreciated — while his patronage regime paid at least one of its executives to live in Texas. Classic.

Less than two weeks earlier, Politico discovered that Kadakia’s boss had a similar, and technically illegal, work-from-home arrangement. It’s not that virtual officing is prohibited, but when the virtual office is in Philly … and the employee is actually working at another job

California’s first superintendent of equity lives in Philadelphia and has a separate job there, more than 2,500 miles away from the schools he advises as one of the highest paid officials in the state Department of Education, according to records and interviews.

Daniel Lee, a psychologist, life coach and self-help author, owns a Pennsylvania-based psychology firm and is the president of the New Jersey Psychological Association’s executive board. He has also been serving as a deputy superintendent for the California Department of Education since July 2020, a role dedicated to the success of children of color that was originally backed by a foundation grant but is now funded by state taxpayers.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who was instrumental in the hiring, has known Lee for more than two decades since they were social workers in Philadelphia and included Lee in his wedding party. The Education Department’s nonprofit affiliate initially hired Lee without publicly posting the job that now pays up to $179,832, and Lee’s 18-page resume shows no prior experience in California or relationships with school districts in the state.

Lee, 51, voted in Philadelphia as recently as November and owns a home there, according to local records. California education and taxpayer advocates questioned why the state hired someone living across the country with other duties to address persistent inequities in the nation’s largest school population. The hiring appears to flout California policy, which allows few exceptions for a state employee to live elsewhere.

Does anyone in CDE actually live in California? Or even those hired to run their “equity” programs? Not that people actually want to live in California these days, but if they’re getting a paycheck from California taxpayers, perhaps they should be within the borders of the state. Or at least just across the border in a neighboring state.

This makes California’s “equity” programs look as though the “equity” with the highest priority was equity among cronies. Lee got the job because he was a buddy of Thurmond. It’s less clear how Kadakia got her job as an “equity project manager,” but Politico notes that she spent some time at the CDE’s non-profit affiliate, where she apparently made networking connections that landed her the gig. The “equity” involved here is featherbedding equity and nothing more.

How do we know this? Politico offers us this look at Lee’s resumé:

In an 18-page resume, Lee seemingly had no prior experience in California schools or relationships with school districts.

There’s no indication thus far that Kadakia had any experience in California schools either, other than as a student. She taught in Dallas’ Richland College the last four years while pursuing a doctorate at Texas A&M. Her only California experience was graduating from Walnut High School in East LA and from Cal State Fullerton (go Titans!) with bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

The assumption from this is that no one in California was qualified to produce “equity” in education … right? Either that, or no one really cares about education “equity” as much as they care about spreading the grift to friends and allies. And it was quite a grift; between Lee and Kadakia, taxpayers in California spent at least $320,000 in salary to help them maintain their homes in Philly and Dallas.

Will California taxpayers hold Newsom accountable for this? They already had their chance. They’re getting the government they wanted … and they’re getting it good and hard. Kudos to Politico for sniffing this one out, but one has to wonder just how many California officials actually live in the state at all. This could be a loooong project for Politico.