(November 22, 2020 / JNS) Jewish and pro-Israel groups have applauded revisions to California’s proposed ethnic-studies curriculum, which were approved this week by an advisory board to the state’s board of education.
The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) voted on Thursday—the second and final day of a meeting—to adopt changes, including the removal of a widely criticized lesson that framed the Jewish community as having “gained racial privilege,” while ignoring anti-Semitism and white supremacist violence against Jews.
The IQC meeting included two hours of phoned-in public comment on Wednesday. A number of Jewish students stressed the importance of educating about all forms of anti-Semitism and the diversity of the Jewish community.
Simultaneously, anti-Israel commenters blasted Jewish groups, equated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the Holocaust and opposed efforts to make the curriculum more balanced and inclusive.
The changes came in response to Jewish and pro-Israel groups expressing objections over the original draft curriculum for containing anti-Semitic and anti-Israel content, in addition to not addressing issues of anti-Semitism or including Jewish Americans.
“Positive changes were made to include Jews and add safeguards against hate and bias in the curriculum,” said StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein 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 anti-Semitism in all its forms, rather than a weak definition that caters to the biases of anti-Israel extremists.”
Sarah Levin, executive director of JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, told JNS that her organization was “pleased with the inclusion of Middle Eastern American experiences, specifically the lesson plan, ‘Anti-Semitism and Middle Eastern Jewish Americans.’ ”
The San Francisco-based Jewish Community Relations Council tweeted: “This week’s IQC meeting proved encouraging; salutary recommendations were approved, including important protections for all students and the addition of lessons on the Jewish American experience.”
The California Department of Education is expected to post the next draft of the curriculum for public review in December.
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