StandWithUs statement on approval Model Curriculum
March 26, 2021
StandWithUs is disappointed that California’s K-12 Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum was approved without the reasonable changes called for by so many people across the state. The State Board of Education voted for the final version unanimously, despite massive numbers of comments asking for edits before and during the March, 18th meeting. As local school districts consider the ESMC and other ethnic studies curricula, StandWithUs will fight relentlessly to ensure these courses humanize and do not harm the Jewish community.
“Despite many improvements since the rejected first draft, the ESMC remains problematic,” said Max Samarov, executive director of Research and Strategy at StandWithUs. “It should have been revised to fix the new Arab American studies lesson plan, which was submitted last minute with almost no time for public review. The Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa
lesson should have been moved to the Asian American section to teach about anti-Semitism alongside Islamophobia. The Third World Liberation Front, which is the origin story of ethnic studies, should have been covered in a way that acknowledges its flaws along with its positive impact. We will fight relentlessly to prevent these problems from being reproduced and ensure Jews are represented fairly in schools.”
Students, parents, and concerned citizens came out to the SBE meeting in huge numbers, calling on them to fix the above problems and others identified by StandWithUs. Many more sent emails beforehand in response to our call to action. The SBE meeting also featured many anti-Semitic comments from anti-Israel extremists, who smeared Jewish students and others calling in as “white supremacists.”
“We are especially proud of all the students who spoke out during the SBE meeting and for almost two years leading up to this vote,” said Kate Chavez, national associate director of High School Affairs at StandWithUs. “Without their voices and courage in the face of hate, the ESMC would have been even more problematic. We look forward to empowering students, parents, and others in our network to engage education officials and fight for the education we deserve.”
Since August 2019, StandWithUs has mobilized countless people across California to address hate and bias in the ESMC, together with a large coalition of partners. We are already building on this work across California and in other states that are adopting ethnic studies, using the lessons and best practices we have learned.