Jewish groups have praised recent changes to California’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) draft.
On November 18 and 19, the State Board of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) revised the draft to remove a lesson that accused the Jewish community of having “racial privilege” while failing to mention anti-Semitism, according to StandWithUs. Additionally, the latest revisions included a lesson plan called “Antisemitism and Middle Eastern Jewish Americans,” according to Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA).
“Positive changes were made to include Jews and add safeguards against hate and bias in the curriculum,” StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein said in a statement. “While the curriculum is headed in the right direction, there are still key changes we all have to fight for. Among the most important is a strong definition of antisemitism in all its forms, rather than a weak definition that caters to the biases of anti-Israel extremists.”
JIMENA Executive Director Sarah Levin similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “As [the] recently published FBI 2019 statistics noted, Jewish Americans are the second most targeted group after African Americans and so we commend the CDE and IQC for listening to the demands of over 10,000 Jewish individuals who explicitly requested the inclusion of our lesson on antisemitism. We are delighted at the prospect of California public school students learning about Middle Eastern Jewish Americans, also known as Mizrahi, Sephardic, and Iranian Jews in their classrooms.”
Tyler Gregory, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Community Relations Council, also said in a statement, “The IQC has endorsed holistic and equitable changes to the curriculum that protect our community and other communities through the inclusion of language that seeks to prevent discrimination against any group in the classroom. Although we believe some further edits to the curriculum will strengthen it further, we believe the process is on the right track.”
According to Jewish News Syndicate, the latest draft will be subjected to public comment for 45 days; the deadline for a final draft of the curriculum is in March 2021.