Scholars claim California ethnic studies program unfounded, lacks evidence

The educational plan had been described as hostile towards Jewish-Americans and regards BDS as a US domestic movement.

An anti-Israeli protest inspired by BDS (photo credit: REUTERS)
An anti-Israeli protest inspired by BDS
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The professed reasons for the State of California to introduce ethnic studies to its high schools were slammed by 35 scholars who claim social science was misrepresented to push forward the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC), a press release on behalf of AMCHA Initiative - a non-profit organization that combats antisemitism on college campuses in the US  – reported on Wednesday.
In a public letter, they argued that the reasons to teach ESMC, mainly to improve grades and class attendance among students, aren’t supported by the very studies being presented to back it up. 
Those who didn't take the course improved their scores as much as those who did take it, those who took it without being advised to do so did not gain academically, they claimed.
This begs the question of how introducing ESMC to the majority of students improves their grades. Furthermore, half the claims meant to back up the argument ESMC will help students in their studies were not backed up by any research and several claims were misattributed, the scholars pointed out. 
Out of the four academic articles meant to support ESMC, none "provides sufficient evidence" that it would accomplish its goals, said AMCHA's co-founder Leile Beckwith, a retired University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) professor.
Originally introduced by then Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016, the ESMC was meant to engage the diverse student body within the state.
However, the final texts produced by the ESMC did not include Jews as a minority at all. In fact, Jewish-Americans were described as "white" and "privileged."
The program speaks about #MeToo, but also about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS). This, despite the fact that BDS is not an American movement and is focused on Israel, not the US. 
While Martin Luther King Jr. is not mentioned, Pol Pot – the controversial former Cambodian prime minister – is described in flattering terms. It also speaks in glowing terms about radical black activists such as George Murray, a Black Panther Party activist who claimed the US Constitution is a "lie" and the American flag is "toilet paper."
“It is unconscionable that with so much at stake, the State Board of Education would mislead California citizens into believing that bold claims about the benefits of ethnic studies courses for K-12 students are supported by considerable and robust empirical evidence,” the scholars argue, “when this is simply untrue.”
Seattle is also working on a program to introduce ethnic studies to its K-12 curriculum. If accepted, math teachers would ask students to show “how ancient mathematical knowledge has been appropriated by western culture," Tablet reported.