Statement on Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Approval

Progressive Zionists of California Executive Director Susan George: 

PZC would like to thank our supporters and partners, who joined forces over the last year and a half to ensure that the final version of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) addresses, rather than spreads, antisemitism. 

In August 2019, the California Department of Education (CDE) released the first ESMC draft, which was roundly condemned by many identity-based organizations, scholars, and national media. Californians submitted thousands of public comments, community leaders spoke out, editorial boards wrote about its problems, and the CDE committed to rewrite the draft. Since then, there have been four revisions, each improving on the last thanks to the tireless work of the Instructional Quality Commission. 

We are also proud to note that Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA) has made history by writing a lesson that centers the experiences of Middle Eastern American Jews — the first such lesson plan in any public school curriculum in America — and we strongly support their advocacy to ensure their lesson plan be included in the same section as any lesson plan on Arab Americans. 

The Jewish community and our allies came together to help submit over 100,000 comments over the course of the revision process. We were proud to engage with a broad coalition of Jewish organizations across the state, including JIMENA, Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Community Relations Council, AJC Global Jewish Advocacy, StandWithUs, and in particular the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, which demonstrated leadership by educating fellow legislators about the unacceptable antisemitism in the first draft. 

We hope individual school districts and teachers will defer to Jewish communal organizations regarding remaining problems affecting our community, and will disregard antisemitic content still being promoted by writers of the first draft. Because of this continued campaign, we need to ensure that guardrails in the ESMC to protect Jewish and all students are enforced if necessary.

The challenges that the Jewish community, and other marginalized communities, have faced during this process will not end with the approval of this curriculum. We will continue to work with our allies to help students, parents, and teachers advocate to ensure individual school districts and high schools do not inadvertently inflame Jew hatred during a time of rising antisemitism. 

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.https://instagram.com/progressivezionists/ https://www.facebook.com/ProgressiveZionistsofCalifornia / caprogressivezionists.org