(Los Angeles, CA -- August 5th, 2020) -- StandWithUs thanks the California Department of Education (CDE) for making positive changes to the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC), in response to thousands of critical comments submitted by our supporters and partners. While this new draft is clearly a step in the right direction, further revisions are needed to address a number of shortcomings in the new draft.
"We appreciate the removal of explicitly anti-Israel and antisemitic content from the ESMC, the inclusion of some new references to the Jewish American experience, and the addition of language promoting critical thinking," said Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs. "That said, there is still more work to do."
"The 'Guiding Values and Principles' of the curriculum should be revised to ensure they cannot be used to justify promoting anti-Israel or antisemitic bias in the classroom. Mizrahi Jews and other Middle Eastern immigrant communities in California should be explicitly included, so that they are represented on an equal basis with Arab Americans in the ESMC. Similarly, the experiences of Mizrahi Jews, Jews of color, Jews from the Soviet Union, and others should be included in places where the American Jewish community is mentioned. Lastly, there are numerous sections in the ESMC where guidelines for fostering critical thinking should be reinforced or expanded upon," concluded Rothstein.
The previous draft of the ESMC was released in July, 2019. It was widely criticized for promoting hate and one-sided narratives against Jews and Israel, excluding Jews and many other ethnic groups, and "imposing predigested political views on students". In response to a massive wave of critical feedback from concerned Californians - much of it mobilized by StandWithUs and our partners - the CDE committed to making significant revisions to the curriculum. In the months that followed, some groups launched a deeply misleading campaign to preserve the deeply flawed first draft.
While the new draft includes important changes which address a number of key concerns, there are still significant problems in the ESMC. StandWithUs has released a call to action which includes specific analysis of both the improvements and remaining flaws. The next step in the approval process for the ESMC is a meeting of the CDE's Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) on August 13th.
StandWithUs appreciates the CDE's hard work on the new draft and will continue to mobilize California students, parents, educators, and residents to offer constructive feedback.
StandWithUs (SWU) is an international, non-profit and non-partisan Israel education organization that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism.
Through university fellowships, high school internships, middle school curricula, conferences, materials, social media, educational films and missions to Israel, StandWithUs supports people around the world who want to educate their schools and communities about Israel.
Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Los Angeles, the organization has chapters and programs on 5 continents, including the U.S., Israel, UK, Canada, South Africa and Brazil.
For the last 7 years, SWU has consistently received the highest possible ratings from Charity Navigator (4 stars) and Guidestar (Platinum).