SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The draft of the new ethnics studies program for California Public schools is being slammed by critics.
They accuse it of being bias against Israel and Jewish people and promoting a political agenda. Now California education leaders say the curriculum needs to be completely redesigned.
Concerns were originally brought up by leaders with the Jewish Caucus who question why the ethnic studies curriculum was leaving out what’s being called the “Jewish experience.” Now, other groups are expressing their concern about how their histories are being erased from future textbooks.
Easan Katir with the Hindu American foundation says Indian Americans are one of those groups.
“It sort of leaves out a lot of the nuances of the history of Indian Americans in California,” he said.
Katir says California has the biggest American community of Indians in the country, yet they’re one group left out of the ethnic studies proposal.
“The curriculum marginalizes the Indian community. It hardly mentions them at all. It talks about the Asian community and it doesn’t even define that,” Katir said.
We spoke with Members of the Armenian National Committee of America too, who say this curriculum omits their history, including stories of the Armenian Genocide.
The ethnic studies model curriculum is being called majorly flawed by state and local leaders. So much so, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond needed to comment.
“There’s no limit on groups who have experienced oppression,” Thurmond said.
State Senator Ben Allen said, “It erases the American Jewish experience it fails to discuss Antisemitism, there is a long list of various bigotry that are listed and discussed extensively in the glossary in the curriculum.”
The ethnic studies proposal could affect more than six million California students, as state lawmakers consider making this a graduation requirement. This raises the stakes for those drafting this curriculum, and those arguing for changes to it.
“This is about making the curriculum holistic that includes the Jewish narrative,” said Allen.
Leaders with the Jewish Caucus say what’s missing: teaching kids about antisemitism, saying Jews are virtually ignored in the draft, in a time when hate crimes are happening on a regular basis.
“These are things that are happening right now” said assemblymember Jesse Gabriel.
Supporters say ethnic studies classes teach students how to think critically about the world around them.
“This is not an attack on ethnic studies,” said Thurmond.
Education leaders say there’s a need now to return to the drawing board, for the curriculum to be more inclusive.
“This is a curriculum that deviated from the guidelines that doesn’t encourage critical thinking,” Allen said.
This proposed ethnic studies curriculum is not mandatory. There is a proposal that would make some sort of Ethnic studies curriculum him a graduation requirement and that’s why leaders in the states say this discussion is now so important.