Earlier this month, the California legislature passed a bill – AB 101 – that would require all public school students to take a semester of ethnic studies in order to graduate high school. The bill is now in Governor Gavin Newsom’s hands; he must decide whether to sign the bill or veto it. If the Governor signs AB 101 into law, California school districts would be permitted to use the ethnic studies curriculum of their choosing – and the current options are dangerous. Two of the curriculums developed so far are antisemitic and anti-Israel. Another, approved by the state, is an improvement, but it is still deeply problematic, failing, for example, to recognize that anti-Israelism can be a mask for antisemitism.
AB 101 should concern us all. If Governor Newsom signs it, California would become the first state in the U.S. to make ethnic studies a graduation requirement. Other states may follow suit.
Particularly troubling is that influential teachers’ unions and California college professors are supporting an ethnic studies curriculum created by an organization that calls itself the “Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Institute.” Among its many problems, the “Liberated” curriculum falsely describes Zionism – the expression of the Jewish people’s right to live in their religious and ancestral homeland – as “a nationalist, colonial ideology” and it falsely and absurdly accuses Israel of “apartheid.”
If Governor Newsom signs AB 101 into law, school districts will be under enormous pressure to find a curriculum they can use to comply with the law. It would be natural for them to adopt a curriculum that is ready to go. None of the current options are acceptable. At best, they will encourage divisiveness and misunderstanding about Jews. At worst, they will foment antisemitism and anti-Israelism.
Learn more about the problems with AB 101 from the ZOA’s op-ed in JNS (published on Aug. 24, 2021, when California’s Senate Appropriations Committee was considering AB 101): California Appropriations Committee must reject the ethnic-studies bill (jns.org).
The Los Angeles Times agrees that AB 101 is flawed and, in an editorial, urged Governor Newsom to veto it: California’s new ethnic studies bill isn’t just right yet – Los Angeles Times (latimes.com).
YOU CAN HELP.
Whether you live in California or elsewhere, please
the petition below, urging Governor Newsom to veto AB 101: