By Pat Lynch
The California Department of Education (CDE) recently released a draft of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC), which has been widely criticized as propaganda – by both the left and the right. More importantly, the new curriculum has been harshly criticized by Jewish legislators in Sacramento as being anti-Semitic.
The new curriculum appears to be part of an emerging pattern by the CDE of a persistent bias against religion. This newest controversy follows on the heels of the CDE’s History/Social Science Curriculum Framework, which many believe presents religious historical figures, beliefs and events in a negative light. Most recently, the new sex education and gender identity/spectrum curriculum (that there are infinite genders) appears very hostile toward religious students and will inevitably result in discrimination and harassment against them, regardless of their particular creed. The CDE seems to have forgotten that religion is a protected class, not just in the Bill of Rights, but also in California law.
The California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) asks about harassment on school property. In 2017, 13.5% of 11th grade students statewide indicated that they were harassed because of race, ethnicity or national origin. 6.7% were harassed “because you are gay or lesbian or someone thought you were.” Interestingly, the same survey indicated that 7.7% of students were harassed because of religion. It is important to note that this number should probably be higher since religious students are under-represented in the CHKS results. This is because many parents of religious students opt their kids out of taking the survey because they perceive that many of the questions are inappropriate.
Ironically, the new anti-bullying curricula being implemented statewide this year almost exclusively focus on LGBTQ+ issues, even though it is a documented fact (from the CHKS) that the vast majority of bullying in our schools is against race, ethnicity, national origin and religion.
Although the CDE has positioned itself to be an equal-opportunity discriminator against all religions, this new Ethnic Studies curriculum appears to particularly hostile toward Judaism. In a letter to the CDE, the California Legislature Jewish Caucus blasts the new curriculum because it “effectively erases the American Jewish experience.” Regarding the new curriculum, the Jewish Caucus states in their letter that it:
- Fails to discuss Antisemitism
- Reinforces negative stereotypes about Jews
- Singles out Jews for criticism
- Would institutionalize the teaching of Antisemitism stereotypes in public schools
- Intentionally turns a blind eye to hatred and discrimination against the Jewish community
- Accuses Israel of manipulating the media
- Promotes the boycott of Israel
- Marginalizes Jewish students
- Fuels hatred and discrimination against the Jewish community
The Antisemitism of the new curriculum appears to be part of a larger effort to immerse California public school students in trendy political correctness. This is a side-effect of CDE curriculum being so heavily influenced by politicized special interest groups such as the California Teachers Association (CTA). In arecent article, the LA Times Editorial Board took strong issue with the new curriculum.
“The proposed ethnic studies curriculum feels like an exercise in groupthink, designed to proselytize and inculcate more than to inform and open minds. It talks about critical thinking but usually offers one side and one side only.”
In California, we are accustomed to government agencies showing their political bias. Unfortunately, when the CDE goes rogue like this, schools are affected and children are harmed. Political groups – like the teachers union – are now heavily influencing curriculum and causing the CDE to forget that religion is, in fact, a protected class both under state law and under the United States Constitution.
It is unclear who at the CDE is driving their Judeo-Christophobic vendetta, but they should be reminded that it is illegal.
Pat Lynch is a resident of Ventura County
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There aren’t enough particulars in this article to really make an informed takeaway. Also, the accusation that Israel manipulates the media is well-established fact.
I think this type of bickering over ethnic studies is why the concept is poorly understood and everyone starts to get into a tizzy. Better than ethnic studies would be a curriculum of “American cultures” which could include specific American cultures such as Rabbi Weiss’s nateuri Karta Jewish sect, but it could also include the American culture of Aztec sacrifice, the American culture of whisky drinking, the American culture of gentlemanly dueling in the Old South, the American culture of Kennedy Assassination researchers, the American culture of Trekkies, etc. etc.
If anything, the curriculum is weak in that it fails to respect the diversity within international Judaism. I also think the label “antisemitic” is poorly defined and can be abused. For example, it is not “antisemitic” to bring up the social problems of victim culture that exist within some Jewish communities, especially when so many American Jews are the best and brightest in our society.