Jewish Caucus lauds CA superintendent for removing bias from curriculum

To rectify the discrepancies, the California Legislative Jewish Caucus worked closely with the educational board to remove the "anti-Jewish bias" from the unreleased 2020 draft.

Social distancing dividers for students are seen in a classroom at St. Benedict School, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Montebello, near Los Angeles (photo credit: REUTERS)
Social distancing dividers for students are seen in a classroom at St. Benedict School, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Montebello, near Los Angeles
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A new draft of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum bill is intended to be released by the California State Board of Education in the coming weeks.
A 2016 law ordered the Board of Education to create a curriculum that would highlight the contributions of minorities in the development of California and the United States.
Last year the educational board released a draft of the said curriculum, which the California Legislative Jewish Caucus said “effectively erases the American Jewish experience,” “omits antisemitism,” “denigrates Jews” and “singles Israel out for condemnation.”
The draft provided sample courses in four main areas: African-American Studies, Hispanic Studies, Native American Studies and Asian American Studies. Supporters say the goal was to create inclusive and supportive environments for children of color.
State Sen. Ben Allen told the Los Angeles Times following the release of the 2019 draft that while he supported having an ethnic studies curriculum, he was “amazed that in a curriculum that has so much about bigotry and hatred of all sorts of different forms that there was not a single mention of antisemitism in the glossary.” He also pointed out that a number of other ethnic groups were excluded, including Irish Americans and Italian Americans.
The California State Board of Education rejected the 2019 proposal curriculum for the state’s schools in August of last year, saying it “falls short and needs to be substantially redesigned.”
To rectify the discrepancies, the California Legislative Jewish Caucus worked closely with the educational board to remove the "anti-Jewish bias" from the unreleased 2020 draft.
“The Jewish Caucus recently had a productive meeting with State Superintendent Tony Thurmond to discuss the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. The Superintendent assured us that our concerns have been clearly heard and that we can be confident that the new version of the curriculum will not include any content that is, or can be perceived as, antisemitic or anti-Israel," The Jewish Caucus said in a statement. "We appreciate the Superintendent’s firm commitment and applaud his efforts to develop a curriculum free from bigotry and discrimination."
“The Jewish Caucus also has engaged in productive discussions with our partners in the other ethnic caucuses and shared with them our community’s concerns. We deeply value these partnerships and are committed to continuing to work closely with the other caucuses to advance justice, increase equity, and address systemic racism," they added. "We look forward to reviewing the new draft of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum and remain hopeful that it will be one that we can all support."

Sam Sokol/JTA and Zachary Keyser contributed to this report.