Letter to Soomin Chao, Chair, Instructional Quality Commission, California Department of Education

Regarding: California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESNC) – AB 221

As a concerned American and supporter of Israel, I am deeply troubled by the California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) and truly alarmed that if AB 331 is approved by the California state legislature in the coming days, every high school student in the state will be required to take an ethnic studies course based on the ESMC before graduating. I am aware that many individuals and groups affiliated with the Jewish community have already written to you about the ESMC’s shocking omission of information about American Jews and anti-Semitism, its use of classic anti-Semitic stereotypes, and its blatant anti-Israel bias. This includes the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, who wrote to you that they "cannot support a curriculum that erases the American Jewish experience, fails to discuss anti-Semitism, reinforces negative stereotypes about Jews, singles out Israel for criticism and would institutionalize the teaching of anti-Semitic stereotypes in our public schools.” 

I am writing to you because I believe these concerns highlight a much deeper and graver problem, namely, the fact that an educational curriculum can be hijacked by those pushing a political and hateful agenda. If not addressed, this problem threatens to undermine not only the current effort to develop an ethnic studies model curriculum, but all other curricular efforts undertaken by the Department of Education. In order to prevent such abuse and the extremely harmful consequences that will ensue from it, I believe safeguards must be put in place before any state-mandated curriculum is adopted for use in California classrooms. 

I strongly urge you, as well as the Board of Education officials and state legislators to immediately address this consequential problem by establishing safeguards for ensuring that all state-sponsored curricula and other instructional materials may never be created or used as tools of political indoctrination that promote hatred and incite harm against any race, religion, group or individual.

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