In the summer of 2019, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and others wrote to the California Department of Education condemning a proposed Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum ESMC that was, among other problems, antisemitic and anti-Israel. Fortunately, the California Board of Education listened. It rejected the draft ESMC, determining that it “falls short and needs to be substantially revised.”
In a statement, California Board of Education leaders explained, “Ethnic studies can be an important tool to improve school climate and increase our understanding of one another. A model curriculum should be accurate, free of bias, appropriate for all learners in our diverse state, and align with Governor Newsom’s vision of a California for all.” They committed to developing a new draft ethnic studies curriculum for review and approval, which “aligns to California’s values.”
While the revision process has been underway, former members of the original ESMC Advisory Committee are conducting a deceptive campaign to circumvent the process. They are trying to get the deeply problematic first draft of the ESMC implemented in California schools with as little oversight as possible. These former members – who call themselves “Save CA Ethnic Studies” – have tried to take advantage of state and local education officials’ focus on addressing the coronavirus crisis to get school boards throughout the state to rubber-stamp a resolution that “affirms support of the California Ethnic Studies Model Draft” and “support[s] the work of the Save CA Ethnic Studies Coalition.”
School board members who are being asked to vote on the resolution are not shown the original draft curriculum. They are not informed about all the criticism it provoked from the ZOA and many others, or that a process to redesign the curriculum is underway.
The ZOA is part of a coalition of organizations that is calling on the California Board of Education president to issue a statement urging district school board members to wait until the revision process is completed before they affirm support for the ESMC or consider whether and how it should be implemented in their respective districts.
The California Board of Education should also hear from members of the public – particularly California residents – who share our concern about this unscrupulous campaign to undermine the revision process. We urge you to sign a petition addressed to the Board of Education president, which you will find here: https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/5694362/revisecurriculum.
The petition will be submitted to the Board president this Thursday, so please sign it as soon as possible.
Thank you for your advocacy and support!