Progressive Zionists of California (PZC) thanks California Governor Gavin Newsom for his Wednesday veto of AB 331, a bill requiring all California high school students to complete an ethnic studies class before graduating high school.
PZC strongly supports the addition of an ethnic studies curriculum in California high schools. However, we have a number of concerns about the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) AB 331 would make a required course. The 2019 draft centered a deeply problematic approach to education and was riddled with antisemitism. The 2020 draft, though much improved, still leaves us with concerns about transparency in the drafting and approval process, inclusion of Jewish Americans, and confounding exclusion of significant communities of color in California.
Board Chair Rachel Bracker said:
“We’re disappointed that Ethnic Studies will not be a graduation requirement, but it is an unfortunate necessity following the significant problems with its model curriculum, which must be amended to include California’s Middle Eastern minorities, Armenians, and Sikhs. We sincerely hope that this hail mary to save the integrity of Ethnic Studies will encourage the model curriculum’s drafters to draw from versions created with community buy-in, like LAUSD’s, and add necessary anti-hate guidelines such as the IHRA definition of antisemitism.”
This veto demonstrates Gov. Newsom’s agreement that there is still much work to be done on this issue, following a significant advocacy campaign PZC launched to support the efforts of Middle Eastern minority groups like AIMEE and JIMENA. Quality educational guidelines are far too important to rush and we are heartened to see policymakers take the time to listen to their constituents.
We look forward to working with our partners to push for improvements to the ESMC as we advocate for an accurate and representative California educational ecosystem. PZC supporters who have not left a public comment can click HERE for more information on how to do so.
PZC has been a leading voice advocating for:
- The inclusion of Mizrahi Jews and other MENA minority communities, which comprise an estimated 60% of California’s population from the region,
- The State of California to uphold its promise of transparency and public input in reviewing the ESMC,
- An explicit commitment to ensure that the curriculum will never promote the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement or other one-sided instruction about Middle Eastern conflicts that create unsafe classrooms for Jewish and Middle Eastern minority students throughout California, and
- That an added section on Jewish communities of color include the widely recognized definition of antisemitism from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
About Progressive Zionists of California
Progressive Zionists of California (PZC) is a grassroots collective of activists and California Democratic Party leaders dedicated to reshaping the discourse around Zionism and antisemitism in California Democratic politics. PZC educates activists about antisemitism and intersectional Zionism with a firm commitment to Palestinian statehood. Our constituents advocate for pragmatic progressive platforms, resolutions, and legislation around domestic and Israel-related issues.