Save Arab American Studies Coalition: IQC Public Comment Mobilization

Wednesday, November 18th 

On November 18th and 19th, the California Department of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) will be meeting to deliberate over edits to the CA Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. These edits strip the entire curriculum of the guiding values and principles of Ethnic Studies, including the Arab American lesson plan, and relegate the Arab American lesson plan to the appendix instead of in its rightful place in Asian American Studies. Now is the time to protect anti-racist education, to ensure that students learn about struggles of indigenous, migrant, and people of color communities.

Join us on Wednesday, November 18 to give public comment and defend the future of education in California. 

Prepare ahead of time:

  1. Write and practice your statement.
  2. We each only have one minute, and it will go by very quickly. See the end of this document for the Save Arab American Studies demands and a few talking points to help you get started.
  3. Let us know if you will need translation.

On Wednesday, November 18:

  1. Tune in to the IQC livestream. The meeting is set to begin at 9 am. The Ethnic Studies portion will begin after lunch (tentatively 12:15pm). 
  2.  As soon as the public comment line opens up for Ethnic Studies, dial the phone number and access code below:
  • Phone number: 712-432-0075
  • Access code: 651905#

Stay on the line. The operator will notify you when it is your turn to provide comment. .

Once you’re unmuted, you will have one minute to give your comment. Two important reminders: 

As soon as you are unmuted, start talking right away, or you may be dropped. Don’t waste time asking if you can be heard. It will be subtracted from your minute. If you’re watching the livestream of the meeting, turn the volume all the way down on your computer. Otherwise, there will be an echo and you won’t be heard clearly. 

Once you’re done with your comment, tune back in to the livestream! (Based on prior experience, you may be kicked off the phone line once you make your comment.)

Save Arab American Studies Coalition Demands and Talking Points

Best practices:

  • If you are a teacher, parent, and/or student, please mention as part of your statement.
  • Don’t feel the need to tackle every issue.  A clear, focused, and strong statement is best. Speak from your heart. The talking points are suggestions, but your own experience is the best!
  • Practice your statement and time it. The IQC will cut you off after one minute.

Here are our demands:

  1. Include the Arab American lesson plan submitted to the IQC by members of the original Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) Advisory Committee.
  2. Re-insert Arab American Studies in its rightful place—within Asian American Studies.
  3. Honor the field of Ethnic Studies. Align all lesson plans to the guiding principles of Ethnic Studies, which are anti-racist, decolonial and liberatory.

Here are some more detailed talking points on each of our demands:

Include the Arab American lesson plan submitted to the IQC by members of the original Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) Advisory Committee.

  • The lesson plan developed by members of the ESMC advisory committee uplifts Arab voices and is based on the principles and pedagogy of ethnic studies.
  • The lesson in the appendix of the current version of the curriculum limits Arab American experience to stereotypes. 
    • This can be triggering for youth who have experienced anti-Arab and Islamophobic attacks.
    • For too long, Arab youth have learned little about their history besides offensive and racist images and stereotypes. Strong Arab-American studies curriculum, developed by ethnic studies educators, provides a critical intervention to these stereotypes in K-12 education.
    • All mention of Palestine and Palestinians has been erased. Ethnic studies scholars agree that it’s impossible to understand Arab American issues without understanding Palestine.
    • There is no mention of the contributions and struggles of Arab Americans to racial and social justice movements.

Re-insert Arab American studies in its rightful place—within Asian American studies.

  • Ethnic scholars across the country and the original ESMC advisory committee agree that Arab American studies belongs in Asian American studies. 
    • The Association for Asian American Studies states: “Arab American studies has been part of the broader field of Asian American studies for nearly two decades and ethnic studies since its inception 50 years ago.”
    • Veterans of the 1968 student strike that led to the creation of Ethnic Studies have submitted a statement to the IQC and CDE insisting that the histories and solidarities among Indigenous, Black and Brown people, including Arabs and Muslims, form the heartbeat of Ethnic Studies.
    • Leading scholars, including Dr. Angela Davis and Dr. Robin Kelley, have signed onto an open letter from the Arab American Studies Association supporting the inclusion of Arab American Studies in Asian American Studies, and calling on CDE to include Arab American Studies in the ESMC.

Honor the field of Ethnic Studies. Align all lesson plans to the guiding principles of ethnic studies, which are anti-racist, decolonial and liberatory.

  • The revised lessons no longer highlight contributions and struggles against structural racism and social, political, and economic marginalization.
    • Ethnic studies is not an ‘all lives matter’ discipline. Nor is it about placing significant racialized communities in the appendix. As we know from the demands for racial justice sweeping this county, this is offensive to people of color. These revisions are tone-deaf to the political moment we are living in.

Reject debunked definitions of antisemitism that equate criticism of Israel with antisemitism.

Here’s the text of the proposed definition (line 10 of Attachment C): “Antisemitism is hatred, discrimination, fear, and prejudice against Jews based on stereotypes and myths that target their ethnicity, culture, religion, traditions, right to self-determination, or connection to the State of Israel.”

• The proposed definition of antisemitism will have a chilling impact on Palestinian, other Arab and Muslim children, and on teachers across the state.

• If teachers can’t talk about Palestine in their classrooms, where does that leave Palestinian children? Are we telling them that their identity is a problem?

• Criticism of Israel is not antisemitic. This definition dangerously downplays the main source of antisemitism in the US—white supremacy.