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March 30, 2022 4:49 pm
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University of California Weighing Resolution Requiring Applicants to Take ‘Liberated’ Ethnic Studies Curriculum

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

One of the campus buildings at the University of California, Berkeley. Photo: Max Pixel/Creative Commons.

A new proposal being weighed by the University of California Assembly of the Academic Senate could force high school students to survey courses in the controversial “liberated” ethnic studies curriculum, a watchdog group has warned.

The proposal, Senate Regulation 424.A.3, would mandate that admission offers to UC system universities be contingent on whether a student took ethnic studies in high school.

A petition circulated Tuesday by the AMCHA Initative, a higher education antisemitism watchdog, noted that the regulation’s standard of ethnic studies is based on the “Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum” (LESMC) that was denounced by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2020 as “offensive in so many ways, particularly to the Jewish community,” for its promotion of extreme anti-Zionism and antisemitic tropes of Jewish power.

If 424.A.3 is approved by the UC Assembly of the Academic Senate, the group added, private and public schools, which are free under California law to choose which ethnic studies curriculum they prefer, would have no choice but to adopt LESMC lest their students be excluded from admission to the UC system.

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“Please understand that if you approve this ethnic studies admission requirement with its Liberated course criteria, and students at every public, charter, and private school in the state are forced to take a ‘critical’ ethnic studies course, you will be responsible for unleashing enormous bigotry and enmity — especially antisemitism — into California classrooms, and threatening the safety and well-being of many students,” said the petition, which garnered over 1,800 signatures.

“Such curricular coercion would be in direct violation of the California Education code, which protects the autonomy of local school districts and private schools in developing appropriate curricula for their students,” it continued. “As UC stakeholders, we are outraged and appalled that a small group of activists seeking to circumvent state law and contravene the will of the public, state legislators, the Governor and top education officials, have been allowed to hijack UC’s faculty governance process for their own financial gain.”

AMCHA Initiative said Tuesday that LESMC is “firmly rooted in ideologies that are deeply anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist, and, when incorporated into an ‘approved’ classroom will inevitably lead to the portrayal of Jews as ‘white, privileged oppressors’ and Zionism as a ‘racist, colonialist system of oppression.”

When California passed in September legislation making it the first US state to make ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement, AMCHA Initiative Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin argued to The Algemeiner that the bill lacked safeguards to prevent the ‘new’ antisemitism — teaching, for example, that Israel is an apartheid state — from entering California schools, and that many would adopt LESMC anyway because of its popularity with local activists and academics.

The University of California Academic Council will discuss Senate Regulation 424.A.3 on Wednesday, and will decide on April 13 whether to advance it to the Academic Senate Assembly for a final vote.

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