November 20, 2020
JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa strongly supports the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) recommendations the California State Board of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) approved at its November 19th meeting.
Now the IQC will be handing the State Board of Education an Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum draft that is balanced and inclusive, as legislators intended when passing AB 2016, the groundbreaking legislation that spurred the creation of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.
The IQC agreed with 10,000 individuals who joined JIMENA’s call to create a comprehensive Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum by including our lesson plan, “Antisemitism and Jewish Middle Eastern-Americans.” That lesson adds Jewish Americans from the Middle East, a large and vital part of California’s diverse ethnic composition, to our State’s new Ethnic Studies framework.
The inclusion of our lesson helps ensure that the curriculum does not replicate discriminatory hierarchies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). At least 60 percent of California’s diverse MENA population were in danger of being excluded from this curriculum, which is why JIMENA and other Middle Eastern groups advocated for the ESMC to accurately represent the rich and vibrant diversity of our state’s Middle Eastern ethnic minorities.
“We are so deeply grateful that the lived experiences of so many minorities, including American Jews from the Middle East, are one very important step closer to being taught in California’s classrooms,” JIMENA Executive Director Sarah Levin said.
JIMENA’s lesson plan and the lesson drafted by the Institute for Curriculum Services help fill a gap in content the State provides teachers — content on contemporary antisemitism — during the time of an unsettling and unprecedented rise in antisemitic acts in California and America. Jews, who comprise just 2 percent of the population, are the target of 60% of religious-based hate crimes according to 2019 FBI statistics.
We thank California State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, IQC Executive Director Shanine Coats, and the members of the IQC for their strong leadership, hard work creating impactful curriculum, and standing tall against bigotry and hate. We are also grateful to our community and allies for advocating on our behalf.