October 19, 2019

CA Bill Requiring Ethnic Studies in High School Delayed for Another Year

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A bill in the California state legislature making the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) a requirement to graduate high school has been delayed for at least another year, the Jewish News of Northern California (J.) reports.

Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside), who is part of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus but isn’t Jewish, said in a statement on his website that his bill, AB 331, will become “a two-year bill,” meaning that he “will continue to advocate for this bill over the course of the next year,” according to his website.

“The curriculum development and feedback process has shown how much consensus there is in support of Ethnic Studies,” Medina said. “It is not a question of whether the subject itself is necessary but rather, how do we ensure the curriculum is comprehensive, rigorous, and inclusive enough. This underscores the importance of taking the time necessary to ensure we get the curriculum right.”

Medina’s statement comes amidst criticism of the current ESMC draft for its favorable portrayal of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement and failure to highlight the issue of anti-Semitism.

Medina had similar criticisms in an interview with the J., saying, “There were many things about it that seemed to be anti-Semitic. I think the omission of the Jewish experience in the United States is glaring. I don’t really think BDS should be included. And I also have an issue with the fact that anti-Semitism is not addressed.”

AB 331 passed the Assembly in May as well as the Senate Education Committee in June, according to the J.

On August 12, the State Board of Education announced that the current ESMC will “be substantially redesigned” before its approval; State Superintendent Tony Thurmond has similarly called for the ESMC to be revised to include Jews and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has vowed that the current ESMC draft “will never see the light of day.”

The Beverly Hills City Council unanimously passed a resolution condemning the ESMC in its current form and called for the SBE to investigate the “anti-Jewish bias” within the government body.

For [the Instructional Quality Commission] to come up with this sort of divisive, racist propaganda and promote this as curriculum in the state is beyond disgusting,” City Councilmember Julian Gold said during the meeting. “It’s malpractice. It’s malfeasance. They deserve to go, all of them. And if the governor doesn’t do it, then he deserves to go too.”