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StandWithUs Letter to Governor Newsom Regarding Ethnic Studies

Dear Governor Newsom,

I write on behalf of StandWithUs, an international, non-profit education organization dedicated to supporting Israel and fighting antisemitism. We were deeply grateful when you publicly promised that the antisemitic and anti-Israel first draft of California’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC), “will never see the light of day.” However, we are now deeply concerned that serious problems remain in the newest draft of the ESMC. As such, we call on you to communicate directly with the Superintendent of Schools and the California Board of Education to demand that the ESMC meet the following standards:

1. The ESMC’s “Guiding Values and Principles” must be revised to remove language which can and will be used to justify bringing anti-Israel and antisemitic hate and bias into our classrooms, in violation of AB331.

2. Safeguards must be added against the ESMC and ethnic studies courses in general being used to promote one-sided political agendas, including antisemitic, anti-Israel and/or anti-Zionist agendas.

3. The curriculum must be revised to accurately represent the diversity of the Jewish community and teach about antisemitism in all its forms across the political spectrum. This should include how antisemitism has manifested within the field of ethnic studies itself.

4. The curriculum must be revised to add an inclusive unit about Middle Eastern communities, including Jews, Iranians, Arabs, and others, instead of the current discriminatory approach that arbitrarily favors one group over all others.

Our detailed analysis of the ESMC and specific recommended changes can be found here. Thousands of Californians have sent emails or signed our petition in support of these changes.

In addition to problematic content in the ESMC, we are equally concerned about the process for writing, reviewing and approving the curriculum. The California Department of Education released the second version of the ESMC on August 3rd, 2020. However, their August 12th announcement of three major changes to the curriculum, mere hours before the IQC was set to reconvene, was entirely lacking in transparency. The public deserves certainty that any new sections of the curriculum will be held to the same standard of vetting as the rest, as well as clarity about why specific ethnic groups are being included, while others are arbitrarily excluded or barely mentioned.

We fully support the vision of AB 2016: “culturally meaningful and relevant curriculum,” educational standards guided by “equity, inclusiveness, and universally high expectations,” and an, “objective of preparing pupils to be global citizens with an appreciation for the contributions of multiple cultures.” Unfortunately, the ESMC is in danger of badly missing the mark, because extremists insist on using ethnic studies to promote their own destructive political agendas.

To see this disturbing reality in action, look no further than San Francisco State University, where a program within the College of Ethnic Studies is hosting an event on September 23rd called "Gender, Justice, & Resistance: A conversation with Leila Khaled". Khaled, a member of the PFLP terrorist group, was personally responsible for a plane hijacking that nearly ended in the mass murder of 148 civilians. The professor hosting this event, Rabab Abdulhadi, is cited in Appendix A the ESMC. We need your voice to ensure this hate does not rear its ugly head in public schools across California, not to mention the ethnic studies courses which will soon be required by the California State University system.

Thank you for attention to these crucially important matters for our state.


Roz Rothstein

CEO and Co-Founder

StandWithUs Cc: Joey Freeman Jennifer Johnson


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