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November 16, 2020 9:58 am

California Advisory Board to Vote on Proposals to Ethnic Studies Curriculum

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The flag of California. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – An advisory board to California’s board of education is scheduled to vote next week on recommended changes to the state’s proposed ethnic studies curriculum.

The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) is expected to vote on the recommended changes by the California Department of Education (CDE) at a meeting on Nov. 18.

Following the vote will be a 45-day period where concerned citizens can submit additional feedback to CDE ahead of the scheduled approval date of the ethnic studies curriculum next March.

These recommended changes came in response to Jewish and pro-Israel groups expressing objections over the original draft curriculum for containing antisemitic and anti-Israel content, in addition to not addressing issues of antisemitism or including Jewish Americans.

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The recommended changes include lessons on antisemitism, Jewish AmericansJewish Middle Eastern Americans and intersectional identities.

At a Nov. 6 press conference, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, who has been circulated as a possible US secretary of education in the upcoming Biden administration, said “as we talk about the rise of white supremacy, we must talk about the increase in hate acts and bigotry against the Jewish community, the high level of antisemitism that we see.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, vetoed a bill last month that would make ethnic studies courses a high school graduation requirement and cited the ongoing pushback over the curriculum.

StandWithUs expressed support for the recommendations but also concern about no commitment by state education officials “to adding a comprehensive definition of antisemitism in all its forms,” in addition to the pressure from anti-Israel activists.

“It is clear that the CDE has recognized many of the concerns raised by Governor Newsom, StandWithUs, our partners and citizens across California,” said SWU CEO Roz Rothstein in a statement. “That said, the IQC still has to approve any changes which would make the curriculum more balanced and inclusive.

“We also remain deeply concerned that education officials have not committed to adding a comprehensive definition of antisemitism in all its forms.”

“Furthermore, anti-Israel extremists are now pressuring the IQC to reject many positive revisions. They are demanding a special place for Arab Americans and anti-Israel propaganda in the ESMC, and calling it an ‘insult’ to treat Arabs, Jews, Armenians, Sikhs, Koreans and other communities equally,” continued Rothstein. “That means we still have a lot of work to do to ensure California gets this right.”

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