In 2019, California Globe reported that the California Department of Education had released an unintelligible draft of ethnic studies gibberish, which included a section on “Islamophobia.” The Legislature’s Jewish caucus, all Democrats, took umbrage with this, and issued a statement:
“We 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.”
Their sentiment and statement was powerful, but that was about as far as it went.
We’ve seen this creeping, social justice warrior, alt-left takeover of many of California public school districts and the curriculum, promoting so-called “unconscious bias” and “inclusivity” instruction, as well as intentionally anti-Caucasian, anti-male, anti-Christian, and anti-Jewish curriculum policies.
For perspective, California Globe spoke with Lance Izumi, Director of Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute. Izumi said what has infiltrated California’s public school curriculum “is Critical Race Theory which says objectivity and meritocracy are racist measures of people.” Critical Race Theory developed from Communism.
Izumi noted that Critical Race Theory is designed to eliminate dissent, but is being sold as having greater discussion about race and points of view. “However, the Left defines the terms of discussion,” Izumi said. “If you as a student, don’t get to bring up your point of views, that is racism.”
Izumi said it does not make it any easier in the classroom for students who oppose Critical Race Theory.
Sort of ironically, Proposition 16 which was on the recent Nov. 3, 2020 ballot, which if it had passed, would have reversed the California Civil Rights Initiative, known as Proposition 209, based on the exact language of the 1964 U.S. Civil Rights Act, which protects all Californians from discrimination. Proposition 209, passed by voters 55% to 45% in 1996, said that the state cannot discriminate against or grant preferential treatment on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, and public contracting.
Prop. 16 was defeated, even by liberal California, 57.23% to 42.77%. Izumi noted that Prop. 16 was campaigned against and defeated largely by Asian Americans, who merely wanted to prevent public universities from discriminating against Asian applicants with higher scores, instead favoring lower-scoring minorities. But now they have to fight for this. “They wanted color blindness,” he said, noting many of the poorest Asians came from countries which imposed policies exactly like Critical Race Theory.
“Jewish students feel they have a target on their backs,” Izumi said. “So do Evangelical Christians, which also are strong supporters of Israel.”
But that never stopped the most radical of social justice warriors from enacting their dream legislation, and instead, over the years since 1996, the California Legislature and the California Department of Education has chipped away at California’s civil rights initiative.
This current ethnic studies curriculum push stems from a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016 that mandated new ethnic studies programs in California’s public schools.
TabletMag.com reported last week that many in the state are only now realizing the scope of the “ethnic studies” curriculum in California, and how anti-semitic it is. “Parents like Elina Kaplan, a former high-tech manager who had just stepped down as senior VP of one of California’s largest affordable housing nonprofits, originally supported the objective, until the first draft of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) was released. Kaplan couldn’t believe what she was reading,” TabletMag.com reported.
What shocked this supporter-in-concept?
In one sample lesson, she saw that a list of historic U.S. social movements—ones like Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, Criminal Justice Reform—also included the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement for Palestine (BDS), described as a “global social movement that currently aims to establish freedom for Palestinians living under apartheid conditions.” Kaplan wondered why a foreign movement, whose target was another country, would be mischaracterized as a domestic social movement, and she was shocked that in a curriculum that would be taught to millions of students, BDS’s primary goal—the elimination of Israel—was not mentioned. Kaplan also saw that the 1948 Israel War of Independence was only referred to as the “Nakba”—“catastrophe” in Arabic—and Arabic verses included in the sample lessons were insulting and provocative to Jews.
Kaplan, 53, a Bay Area mother of two grown children who describes herself as a lifelong Democrat, was further surprised to discover that a list of 154 influential people of color did not include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, or Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, though it included many violent revolutionaries. There was even a flattering description of Pol Pot, the communist leader of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, who was responsible for the murder of a quarter of the Cambodian population during the 1970s.
Kaplan, who is a refugee from the Soviet Union said this “creates a means of understanding the world that does not allow questioning. And it’s a view that actively invites anti-Zionism into the classroom. It requires it. This is the greatest threat facing American Jews today.”
Also in 2016, a bipartisan California bill to end taxpayer support for the discriminatory anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement was shelved, as less forceful measures were preferred by legislative leadership.
Assembly Bill 1552 by then-Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), would have prohibited state entities from contracting with parties that engage in commercial discrimination, and boycotts on the basis of national origin, and sought to end the practice of California supporting such discriminatory or anti-Semitic efforts.
“Rather than promoting peace, the BDS movement denies the right of the Jewish State to exist, regularly employing tactics designed to harm Israel,” said Allen in an exclusive interview.
Some Jewish scholars say the BDS movement is an outcome of the New Left’s dominance in American academia, especially Middle East Studies. “Many academic associations are moving ahead with efforts to impose full economic and academic boycotts of Israel, including barring their colleagues (who may not share their alacrity for anti-Zionism) from collaborating with Israeli scholars,” wrote A.J. Caschetta, a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum and a senior lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
“In California, considered ground zero for BDS anti-Semitism, state universities have the most episodes of anti-Semitism on American campuses. Some of the same college groups supporting a boycott of Israel refused to boycott ISIS,” I reported for Legal Insurrection. A few examples:
- California’s public employee pension systems, CalPERS and CalSTRS, have made deliberate investments in companies that boycott or engage in political or economic discrimination against Israel. Both retirement systems even buckled under activist pressure. Following a 2013 “Israel Divestment Campaign (IDC) petition presentation, CalPERS initiated a yearlong series of discussions with IDC and began its own policy-driven ‘engagement process’ with two of the five companies targeted by IDC: Elbit Systems Ltd. and Veolia Environnement.”
- Student governments at UC Berkeley, UC San Diego and UC Irvine have endorsed divestment and sanctions of Israel.
- A Jewish student at UCLA was initially denied a student government position over concerns that she would be ‘unable to maintain an unbiased view’ because she was “a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community.”
- At a Stanford University ASSU Senate meeting just last week (2016), a Stanford senator running for reelection argued that it is not anti-Semitic to question whether Jewish people control the media and banks, the Stanford Review reported.
Allen’s bill was a response not only to the campus BDS actions, but also to the worldwide economic movement against Israel.
However, at the behest of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, the Senate Rules Committee sat on Assemblyman Allen’s bill, preventing it from advancing. And then his bill was hijacked by the Jewish Caucus, which wasn’t happy with Allen’s authoring the bill without consulting them first. It was an odd reaction, because the Jewish Caucus did not have any anti-BDS legislation in the pipeline, and had no plans for any such legislation.
The Jewish Caucus had proposed amendments to Allen’s bill, all of which he accepted. He then tried to get the bill moved on to legislative committees for hearings, but the Jewish Caucus continued to sit on it, leaving AB 1552 stalled and stuck on a shelf in the Rules Committee. The hijacking occurred as the Jewish Caucus gutted and amended another bill, stealing some of the language of Assemblyman Allen’s, then writing their own watered-down version.
Lance Izumi said that even with the outpouring of criticism of the first Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum draft, California Schools Superintendent Tony Thurmond ordered a revision, but the second draft merely moved some of the offensive and worse material to the appendices. “And they added in sections about other ethnic groups, but that doesn’t make the curriculum better,” Izumi said. “The racist underpinning of the entire enterprise is still there.”
Thurmond and the Department of Education “recommended removing all language or content that can be perceived as anti-Semitic—a commitment the State Superintendent said should not be broken as recommendations continue to be revised.”
Izumi said the CDE recommended:
- Adding a sample lesson on the Pacific Islander experience
- Developing a sample lesson on Arab American Studies that focuses on the Arab American experience in the United States.
But that was short-lived: TabletMag.com reported that in the third draft, released in December, some of the most offensive material was actually moved back in.
“Parts of the proposed curriculum read like a manual for future left-wing activists,” Breitbart’s Joel Pollak reported in 2019. A second on ‘social movements’ encourages students to study Black Lives Matter; the Occupy movement; the anti-Israel ‘Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions’ movement; and the LGBTQ movement. Conservative movements like the Tea Party are excluded.”
Here’s a sample of the draft of the 2020 Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, which would replace a semester of geography:
Defining Ethnic Studies
At its core, the field of Ethnic Studies is the interdisciplinary study of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity with an emphasis on experiences of people of color in the United States. Further, it is the xdisciplinary, loving, and critical praxis of holistic humanity – as educational and racial justice. It is from communities of color and our intergenerational worldviews, memories, experiences, identities, narratives, and voices. It is the study of intersectional and ancestral roots, coloniality, hegemony, and a dignified world where many worlds fit, for present and future generations.
The field critically grapples with the various power structures and forms of oppression, including, but not limited to, white supremacy, race and racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, islamophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia, that continue to impact the social, emotional, cultural, economic, and political experiences of Native People/s and people of color.
Ethnic Studies is xdisciplinary, in that it variously takes the forms of being interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, transdisciplinary, undisciplinary, and intradisciplinary. As such, it can grow its original language to serve these needs with purposeful respellings of terms, including history as herstory and women as womxn, connecting with a gender and sexuality lens, along with a socioeconomic class lens at three of its intersections. Terms utilized throughout this document, which may be unfamiliar to new practitioners of the field, are defined in the glossary.
And no, those are not typos (xdisciplinary, herstory, womxn); this is the new, inoffensive way to present language that does not automatically infer (white) male dominance.