2019-08-05 | Blog

Call to Action – California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum

August 4, 2019

In 2016, the State of California passed legislation, AB 2016, requiring the State Board of Education to adopt an Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum for high school students. Unfortunately, the proposed model curriculum completely ignores the experiences of American Jews, promotes a boycott of Israel, and ignores antisemitism. […]

August 4, 2019

In 2016, the State of California passed legislation, AB 2016, requiring the State Board of Education to adopt an Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum for high school students. Unfortunately, the proposed model curriculum completely ignores the experiences of American Jews, promotes a boycott of Israel, and ignores antisemitism. Furthermore, in conflict with its stated guidelines, the Model Curriculum erases the histories, voices, and experiences of American minority communities from the Middle East and North Africa – including those of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews.

The Time to Respond is NOW!

Residents of California have until Friday, August 15th to submit their comments to the State Board of Education. We are encouraging scholars, educators, activists, parents and students to submit comments.

To submit feedback about the curriculum, follow these steps

  1. Download the Public Input Template form here.
  2. Fill out the form by adding general comments and/or referencing specific lines and pages in the model curriculum. If you have the desire to read through the curriculum and reference specific problem areas, we encourage you to download Chapter 2. Sample Course Models of the curriculum and reference problem areas found within the Arab American Studies Course Outline (lines 4920 thru 6195). We also encourage you to download and reference problems within the glossary and bibliography. If you prefer to submit general feedback, then please feel free to incorporate the talking points below.
  3. Email the form to ethnicstudies@cde.ca.gov

DO NOT:

  • Attack the State of California or the Board of Education for passing legislation requiring the State to implement Ethnic Studies Curriculum
  • Attack state officials or communities referenced in the curriculum – such as Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims

DO:

  • Read through the Board of Education’s Guidelines for the proposed Model Curriculum and site how the proposed Curriculum is in conflict with these guidelines.
  • Share your personal stories and experiences of being an ethnic minority from the Middle East or North Africa and how the erasure of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews from the curriculum effects you and your community personally.
  • Share how the Model Curriculum personally impacts you as a student, parent, educator, or concerned Jewish resident of California.
  • Be respectful – no bashing Ethnic Studies

Talking Points for Public Input Template

Please note that these talking points were extracted from the Sephardic and Mizrahi Communal Response to the Model Curriculum.

  • The Arab American Studies Course Outline within the Ethnic Studies Model curriculum is deeply problematic. It is highly politicized and not built on foundational scholarship necessary for the quality education our students deserve. It lacks cultural competency, nuance and sensitivity to student demographics.
  • We estimate that the state of California is home to some 236,000 Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent. The Iranian Jewish community in Los Angeles comprises an estimated 60,000 individuals, making them one of the largest Middle Eastern diasporic communities in the United States. Despite our community’s numbers, we have been completely erased from the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.
  • The Arab American Studies Course curriculum, as it is currently written, fails to reflect Mizrahi demographics, needs and interests in the state of California.
  • The Arab American Studies Course violates a number of the Ethnic Studies Curriculum Guidelines
  1. It is not written in a language that is inclusive and supportive of multiple usersas itexcludes and erases the experiences, perspectives, and voices of diverse Middle Eastern communities.
  2. It will fail in promoting self and collective empowerment of Coptic students, Bahai Students, Mizrahi Jewish students, Assyrian students, Iranian students, Kurdish students, Yazidi students and non-Muslim Middle Eastern students who together constitute a sizeable Middle Eastern demographic in California yet are entirely erased in the curriculum.
  3. The course will fail to promote rigorous analysis of history, systems of oppression, and the status quo in an effort to generate discussions on futurity, and imagine new possibilities as it only presents one Middle Eastern experience – that of Arab Muslims.
  • The over-emphasis of the Israeli Palestinian conflict and the definition of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in the Model Curriculum are both framed entirely from the vantage of proponents of BDS and fail to adhere to curriculum guidelines that require content to be taught in a manner that is “balanced“, “inclusive“, and reflective of “different perspectives.
  • At a time of increased vulnerability for American Jews, it is essential that the State of California do its best to protect the unique needs and sensitivities towards American Jewish students.
  • We believe it is critical to remove the unbalanced definition of BDS from the glossary of terms and to include a working definition for antisemitism.

Join us as we secure the rights of Jews from North Africa and the Middle East