ACTION ALERT: California Ethnic Studies Curriculum Update – COMMUNITY ACTION REQUESTED

Aug 05, 2020 Article

URGENT ACTION ALERT: California Ethnic Studies Curriculum Update

YOUR URGENT ACTION NEEDED

California Ethnic Studies Curriculum

 

 

 

WE NEED YOUR HELP

THE TIME TO SPEAK UP IS NOW.

FORWARD TO YOUR FRIENDS IN CALIFORNIA.

 

Last year, we asked you to mobilize and speak out against anti-Israel and antisemitic themes in California’s draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC). Thanks to all of our efforts, the California Department of Education (CDE) committed to writing a new draft. That draft has now been released, and, while it is a step in the right direction, there is still more work to do.

 

 

THE TIME TO SPEAK UP IS NOW.

FORWARD TO YOUR FRIENDS IN CALIFORNIA.

 

 

California residents have until August 11 to voice concerns to the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), so please submit respectful comments before the deadline and share this alert with other people in California.

 

 

To submit feedback about the curriculum, follow these easy steps: 

 

·     Download our sample public comment form HERE, and add your own thoughts if you would like to do so. (See our analysis below for inspiration.)

 

·     Click HERE to email a comment to the IQC, introducing yourself as a California resident, parent, student, or educator. Make sure to ATTACH OUR COMMENT FORM to the email.  

 

·     For added impact, CC the email to your California state representatives.

 

 

 

DO’S AND DON’TS

 

 

DO NOT attack the officials working on the ESMC or any other community covered in the curriculum.

 

DO:

 

·     Keep your comments respectful and focused on the issues outlined below.

·     Emphasize the value of inclusion and how BDS promotes hate and division.

·     If you are a parent, student, or educator, share how the current draft of the curriculum will personally impact you.

 

 

 

POSITIVE CHANGES AND FLAWS

 

 

Examples of Positive Changes to the ESMC

 

·     Explicitly anti-Israel and antisemitic content has been removed.

·     A few new references to the American Jewish experience and antisemitism have been included.

·     Guidance has been added that encourages teachers to expose students to “multiple and often competing sources of information” and foster respect for diverse viewpoints.

·     Strong language has been added that urges school districts to be transparent and actively seek public input when they implement ethnic studies locally.  

 

Examples of Flaws of the ESMC

 

·     Chapter 1 includes a section titled “Guiding Values and Principles of Ethnic Studies.” These Guiding Values and Principles directly reference and are partly based on a book called Education at War. The relevant section of the book effectively encourages teachers to “develop solidarity and create linkages” with anti-Zionism, BDS, and anti-Israel narratives, which would be deeply harmful to many Jewish students in the classroom.

·     In Chapter 3, Middle Eastern communities, such as Mizrahi Jews, Iranians, Kurds, Assyrian-Christians, Coptic-Christians, Yezidis, Baha’is, and Zorastrians, are lumped together as “other Middle Easterners” instead of represented on an equal basis with Arab Americans. Our partners at JIMENA have put together a coalition letter of communities representing an estimated 500,000 Californians, which explains this problem in depth.

·     In Chapter 3, references to American Jews ignore the experiences of Mizrahi Jews, Jews of color, Jews from the former Soviet Union, and other Jewish communities in California, whose stories are less widely acknowledged. 

·     The only unit included in Appendix A that places significant focus on Jews compares them to Irish Americans. This flattens the Jewish experience, disregards the diversity of the American Jewish community, and ignores ongoing white supremacist hostility and violence against Jews of all backgrounds.

·     There are numerous sections of the ESMC where it is essential to expand upon or reinforce the importance of exposing students to “multiple and often competing sources of information” and ensuring that “diverse viewpoints are respected.” For example, in Appendix B, “Sample Lesson 2: Social Movements and Student Civic Engagement” should specifically address the possibility that a movement chosen by a teacher or student has faced criticism that students should consider, including from individuals, organizations, intellectuals, and leaders who are members of various ethnic minority groups.

 

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