California Board of Education scraps anti-Israel ethnic-studies curriculum proposal

The flag of California. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

It stated that “the current draft model curriculum falls short and needs to be substantially redesigned.” Pro-Israel groups applauded the decision, though vowed to keep watch on the matter.

(August 14, 2019 / JNS) The California Board of Education has announced it will scrap its current draft ethnic-studies curriculum and develop a new model curriculum following outrage by California lawmakers, activists and Jewish and pro-Israel groups for its “blatant bias against Israel.”

The California State Board of Education stated that “the current draft model curriculum falls short and needs to be substantially redesigned.”

“Following the Instructional Quality Commission’s review and response to all public comments, a new draft will be developed for State Board of Education review and potential approval. The Board will ultimately adopt an ethnic studies model curriculum that aligns to California’s values.”

Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, lauded both the results and the fact that the Jewish community mobilized quickly and as one.

“The pro-Israel community and people of good will stood together, united against a hateful, biased curriculum and demanded change. Our voices were heard. We look forward to seeing a curriculum that is inclusive, and that we can all feel comfortable with.”

The Israeli-American Council also approved the decision by the Board of Education and Gov. Gavin Newsom, but said that they will continue to work to ensure that the new curriculum “will exclude hateful movements such as BDS, as well as any other narratives that demonize Israel and the Jewish people.”

IAC co-founder and CEO Shoham Nicolet said in a statement that “to truly advance the goals of the ethnic-studies curriculum as described by the California Department of Education, we believe that the narratives and experiences of the American Jewish community and the Israeli-American community, which constitutes a distinct ethnic group that faces discrimination, must be included.”

The Jewish Center for Justice also approved the decision.

“The ‘Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum’ that was both anti-Semitic and which erased our long history of struggle, persecution and resistance,” it said.

“That this curriculum was considered at all during a time when hate crimes against Jews in California, and the United States overall, is on the rise is highly disconcerting. We echo the words and leadership of the California Jewish Legislative Caucus, and urge the State Board of Education to propose a curriculum that includes the experiences and voices of the Jewish community without unfairly singling out Israel or ignoring issues of anti-Semitism.”

The AMCHA Initiative said that while they are pleased with the Board of Education’s decision, revamping the curriculum is needs to address the underlying issues of anti-Israel bias.

“The State Board of Education must establish overall safeguards to ensure that abusive and unconscionable attempts to hijack an educational curriculum in order to indoctrinate students with political, religious and ethnic hate are never attempted again,” AMCHA Initiative Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin said. “If the State Board of Education does not do this, it is imperative that our state’s elected leaders introduce legislation to right this wrong and protect our students.”

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