Jewish groups in California took out a full-page ad in a local newspaper on Wednesday to voice their displeasure and concern with a school-board decision to engage an ethnic-studies curriculum for high school and middle-school students that they say will lead to hostility towards Israel and Jewish students.
Appearing in the Castro Valley Forum, the ad reads, in part: “The Castro Valley Unified School District claims it is committed to ensuring the inclusion and belonging of all students and families with its tagline ‘All Means All.’ However, it appears this declaration comes with a notable exception: Jews not included.”
The ad is sponsored by local branches of the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Family and Children’s Services Holocaust Center and Chabad of Castro Valley.
On Jan. 19, the school board for the Castro Valley Unified School District unanimously approved—to the tune of more than $82,000—a measure that will allow the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Institute to provide ethnic-studies “professional training” and “curriculum development.”
In a backgrounder to the board meeting, the school district said the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Institute “provides training in the most inclusive model of ethnic studies and encourages collaborative community development of ethnic studies.”
But Jewish groups say they are anything but “inclusive” and that the school district’s decision was, in the words of a community spokesperson, “egregious.”
“Liberated Ethnic Studies is a professional development institute providing training and content for public schools teachers … that is both anti-Zionist and openly antagonistic to the Jewish community at large,” said Tyler Gregory, CEO of the JCRC of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, in a memo to supporters.
In late 2021, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that mandates a semester of ethnic studies in high school as a graduation requirement. The law, however, came after a long battle when the initial ethnic-studies curriculum was found to be inherently anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic. The writers of that initial curriculum, which was dropped from the state’s guidance, went on to create the for-profit Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Institute, which will now be used in Castro Valley, some 25 miles southeast of San Francisco.
“Despite strong opposition from numerous students, parents and Jewish community clergy and leaders, the board voted unanimously to work exclusively with the drafters and supporters of an ethnic-studies curriculum that California’s board of education rejected for its anti-Semitic content, among other defects,” said Seth Brysk, ADL Central Pacific regional director in a statement. “The leaders of the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Institute produced a curriculum that contained anti-Semitic and extreme anti-Israel bias and excluded anti-Semitism from the glossary of different forms of oppression and prejudice.”
Unlike “multicultural studies” programs, which the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Institute says on its website “covers all marginalized communities equally,” ethnic studies “centers the radicalized experiences, intellectual traditions, cultural and ancestral knowledge of liberation struggles … ,” asserts the group.
Further, they posit that while a multicultural curriculum “focuses on inclusive or diverse cultural perspectives on any given topic,” ethnic studies “focuses on the historical and lived experiences of Blacks, Chicanx-Latinax, Asian and Pacific Islanders (including Palestinians and other Arab Americans), Native American and other radicalized communities of color.”
Their curriculum includes a section called “Preparing to Teach Palestine: A Toolkit” and includes links to articles such as “The ADL Is Not an Ally: A Primer,” “Together We Rise: Palestine as a Model of Resistance,” and “The Business of Backlash: The Attack on the Palestinian Movement and Other Movements for Justice,” which is from a group called the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network….
The above comes from a story dated Jan. 28 posted by the Jewish News Syndicate.