Tell the State Board of Education that this current draft is not Ethnic Studies!
Watch Live Stream of SBE Meeting Here.
Join us March 18th at the SBE meeting for Live Public Comment (Thursday, March 18th starting @ 8:30am):
How to Call-In
Public comment may also be provided during the meeting by dialing the phone number and participant access code listed below. The operator will notify callers when it is their turn to provide public comment. Public comment will be limited to one minute. Members of the public wishing to dial in for public comment should view the live-stream of the meeting. The number is provided below and will also be announced at the start of public comment for each item.
- Prior to making public comment, speakers who are watching the meeting via live webcast should make sure the volume on their computer is muted to avoid an echoing or feedback sounds during the call.
- Each speaker will be allotted one minute of public comment for each agenda item.
- Please use the phone number provided below:
- Phone number: 712-770-5316, Participant Access Code: 4337117
Need inspiration? Here are some points to include in your comment:
Now we need your voice! Include these points:
1. Who are you – are you a student/educator/parent/concerned community member?
2. Express your concern about the content of the most recent draft. Use these demands:
The State Board of Education must Vote No on the current ESMC. Instead, the ESMC needs to be rewritten by Ethnic Studies educators of color to:
- Re-insert Arab American lessons, including Palestine, within the Asian American Studies section of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, with content and pedagogy developed by Arab American educators and true to the discipline of Ethnic Studies.
- Restore the original guiding values and principles that make Ethnic Studies the academic discipline it is today.
- Re-insert the key terms and definitions aligned with Ethnic Studies scholarship and pedagogy, and correct erroneous information about Ethnic Studies.
3. Talk briefly to one or two of the following points:
This current version of the ESMC is not an Ethnic Studies Curriculum.
The CA Department of Education (CDE) has failed to fulfill its mandate under AB 2016 to develop an Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum “with participation from faculty of Ethnic Studies programs at universities and colleges with Ethnic Studies programs and a group of representatives of local educational agencies… who have relevant experience or education background in the study and teaching of Ethnic Studies.”
- Ethnic Studies is a discipline with its own history, principles and pedagogy, based in the history of resistance to US racism, colonial conquest, and enslavement. The draft offered by the CDE discards this fundamental orientation in favor of a multicultural potpourri of disjointed lesson plans.
- The critical edge of Ethnic Studies has been sanitized by removing critical Ethnic Studies terms like “revolution”, “rightwing”, “capitalism”, and even “Ethnic Studies” from key sections.
- There is a lack of analysis and critique of racism and other systems of oppression. For example, the African American lesson on the Black Lives Matter movement fails to depict the true causes of police brutality, the significance of ongoing anti-racist struggle in African American communities and the impact BLM has had on all communities of color. The failure to describe the enormous racialized disparities in net worth and healthcare experienced by African American families and the educational inequality experienced by Black youth are examples of the ESMC’s simplification, suppression, and erasure of the social and political oppression of communities of color and Native peoples.
- The last draft of the ESMC was so deficient that the entire advisory committee and the designated writers of the original ESMC requested that their names be removed from the document.
CDE’s decision to purge Arab American studies from Asian American studies runs against decades-long tradition in Asian American studies and Ethnic Studies as shaped and supported by experts in the field.
- The actions of CDE marginalize Arab history and Arab people. Their actions mirror the egregious policies of the Trump administration and the shameful history of anti-Arab racism.
- Palestine is an intrinsic part of Arab American history, and has been central to the international perspectives at the root of Ethnic Studies as a discipline from its roots in the late 1960s.
It is unacceptable for the CDE to allow predominantly white, rightwing interest groups to define Ethnic Studies.
- The CDE enlisted non-Ethnic Studies scholars to try to mask over problems with previous ESMC versions. Their frequent use of terms such as “multiple perspectives,” “diversity,” “all students” and “broad range of groups” decenters and undermines the primary focus on BIPOC communities who comprise more than 80 percent of California’s student population. The racist result is an ESMC even farther from the decolonial, anti-racist and liberatory content and pedagogy of Ethnic Studies.
- Ethnic Studies is not about giving equal weight to all perspectives on oppression and racism; it’s about centering the voices of those most impacted. As Brazilian educator Paolo Freire noted, “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.”
- The Jewish Caucus of the CA State Legislature and pro-apartheid Israel interest groups, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), have been directly involved in shaping Ethnic Studies curricula, including the removal of Arab American studies from its historic location within Asian American Studies to the appendix, and the erasure of content about Palestine.
The future of anti-racist education across the US is at stake.
- Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
- Many progressive groups have documented the ADL’s “ongoing pattern of attacking social justice movements led by communities of color, queer people, immigrants, Muslims, Arabs, and other marginalized groups, while aligning itself with police, right-wing leaders, and perpetrators of state violence.” (DroptheADL.org)
- Simon Wiesenthal Center and its Museum of Tolerance
- Closely tied to the CDE’s approach to the ESMC is State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond’s Education to End Hate, a well-funded statewide anti-bias program. One of the three organizations offering staff development in the program is Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance.
- September 2, 2020, Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the center , wrote that Trump was a “non-Jewish hero” for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in the face of international law.
- Last year the center listed Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar’s criticism of Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians and support for the ability to boycott Israel as among the “Top 10 Worst Global Anti-Semitic and Anti-Israel Incidents.”
- The center organizes extensively on college campuses to quash discussion of Palestine, and last year successfully pressured the Niles, Illinois, school district into canceling a class that would have taught teachers about Palestine.
- The Simon Weisenthal Center received a $225,692 grant from Homeland Security’s Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Program (TVTP). In June 2020, more than 70 human rights, civil liberties and community organizations wrote a public letter condemning TVTP programs because they, “are built on the false premise that Muslims are predisposed toward violence and require government interventions to prevent them from committing violence and terrorism.”
- The ADL, JCRC, the CA Legislature’s Jewish Caucus and other Zionist forces have been in meetings with the State Board of Education to push their concerns. On their wish list is the inclusion in the ESMC of the IHRA definition of anti-semitism, which equates any criticism of Israel with anti-semitism.
- This anti-Palestinian definition of anti-semitism isn’t happening in a vacuum, but in a context where the United States State Department has committed to “countering the Global BDS Campaign as a manifestation of anti-semitism.” These efforts don’t protect California students or introduce them to critical anti-racist, decolonial and liberatory materials. They have a chilling effect on the kind of thought that academic study requires. Curricula, policies, and definitions that could be used to equate criticism of racism and state violence with criminal activity don’t just subvert the study and aims of social justice movements. They set a dangerous precedent for all of us.
For more ideas: see our Statements of Support and Webinar Tabs!