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StandWithUs Seeks Administrative Action to Address Antisemitic "Lesson" at Washington Elementary School

Updated: Feb 29

(Seattle Washington – February 14, 2024) – The StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism (CCA) sent a letter on January 17 to a Washington State school principal and district superintendent expressing concern about a discriminatory anti-Israel lesson taught to second graders at the Syre Elementary School in Shoreline, Washington. 

 

Under the guise of a social studies class about “protest,” it appears that one or more Syre Elementary teachers showed students a video of children participating in anti-Israel demonstrations, had the students create pro-Palestine signs, which they used in a mock anti-Israel protest, and then posted about the "lesson" on a schoolwide digital platform. The CCA sent the letter of concern to school principal Michelle Carroll and Susanna Reyes, Superintendent of the Shoreline Public Schools, at the behest of concerned parents in the community. The CCA requested a response by January 31. There has been no reply to the letter or to subsequent phone calls to the superintendent.

 

The letter outlines the issue, as described in the online post about the "lesson," and urges the administration to immediately initiate a full investigation, take the necessary corrective measures, and, if violations of school values or policy are found, to impose immediate consequences. These include taking all reasonably necessary steps to ensure that teachers are not permitted to repeat this inappropriate and discriminatory conduct in the classroom and ensuring that the school's students and staff receive appropriate education about anti-Jewish bias and bigotry. 

 

The CCA expressed its serious concern that seven and eight-year-old children were subjected to deeply bigoted, antisemitic views and propaganda in a classroom “lesson” that amounted to indoctrination, promoted hatred, and created a hostile classroom environment toward the Israeli and Jewish communities. The posting of this inappropriate and unbalanced “lesson” on a schoolwide electronic communication platform only served to compound the harm to the Jewish community. The “lesson” also displays a blatant disregard for Shoreline Public Schools policies, including, among others, those regarding controversial issues, academic freedom, selection of academic materials, and absence of bias.

 

Carly F. Gammill, director of the StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism, explained, "The exponential increase in anti-Israel and antisemitic rhetoric since Hamas' October 7 massacre and kidnapping in Israel is clearly evident on college campuses and in the community.  Situations like this demonstrate that we are dealing with a far more insidious problem that has crept into the educational system at much lower levels, with teachers indoctrinating young minds with anti-Israel propaganda and misinformation that incites violence and undermines and denies 3,000 years of Jewish history in the land of Israel." 

 

Randy Kessler, regional director of StandWithUs Northwest, added, "Furthering such false and biased narratives to young audiences—including through the use of videos that glorify violence—​threatens to solidify antisemitic thoughts and carries the potential of encouraging further violent actions. To safeguard Jewish and Israeli students and to protect the students at Syre Elementary and other schools from further indoctrination into false and biased narratives, we call upon the school district to take immediate corrective action, including providing education about Jewish identity and antisemitism."

  




Update:


StandWithUs received a letter on February 23rd from Shoreline School District Superintendent Reyes. The letter indicated that the district had completed an investigation, found violations of the policies we cited, and is addressing the matter to ensure that further policy violations do not recur. This includes issuing a statement directly to parents about the matter and reminding teachers about their obligations to comply with district policies, in particular those that govern teaching controversial topics, use of unauthorized materials, and respecting diverse student cultures. The district also committed to taking action at the building level to ensure that the second-grade curriculum stays in compliance with these policies going forward.

We commend the district for treating this matter with the seriousness it deserves. We are grateful to the members of the parent community who alerted us to this lesson and encourage others to step forward if they see similar violations of school policies.



About StandWithUs and the Center for Combating Antisemitism

 

StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism (CCA), is exclusively dedicated to addressing the continued rise of antisemitism within the culture and around the globe. The CCA employs new strategies focused on aggressively confronting “the world’s oldest hatred,” including through legal means.

  

StandWithUs (SWU) is an international, nonprofit, 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 throughout the U.S., Israel, the UK, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and the Netherlands. 

  

For the last eleven years, StandWithUs has consistently received the highest possible ratings from Charity Navigator and GuideStar, two charity watchdog groups that assess hundreds of thousands of charities in the United States. 

 


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