74 Jewish and Education Groups Join Thousands of Petitioners in Demanding Newsom Veto Ethnic Studies Requirement Bill

AMCHAinitiative.org

Seventy-four religious, civil rights and education organizations today urged Governor Gavin Newsom to veto AB 101, a bill mandating an ethnic studies high school graduation requirement. The California legislature recently voted to advance AB 101, and the bill now on the desk of the Governor, who has until Oct. 10 to act. In the past couple of weeks, thousands of Californians, hundreds of California high school students and parents, and hundreds of Holocaust survivors and their descendants have urged Newsom to veto the bill. And the LA Times editorialized against AB 101, urging a veto, and citing the same concerns raised by the petitioners. “We are 74 organizational supporters of the California Jewish community, who are deeply concerned about the ethnic studies requirement bill, AB 101, and the enormously harmful impact we believe it will have on Jewish students and the Jewish community if it becomes law. We strongly urge you to veto this bill,” wrote the groups in their letter to Newsom today. The organizations are alarmed because, although AB 101 was amended to include language expressing the Legislature’s intent that local educational agencies (LEAs) “not use the portions of the draft model curriculum that were not adopted by the Instructional Quality Commission due to concerns related to bias, bigotry, and discrimination,” the bill does not, and by law cannot, prevent an LEA from adopting any part of the overtly antisemitic first draft of the ESMC. The first draft was opposed by 20,000 Californians, virtually every Jewish organization in the state, and the Legislative Jewish Caucus, whose members rightly warned that such a curriculum would “marginalize Jewish students and fuel hatred and discrimination against the Jewish community.” When that draft failed, the state went through multiple rounds of revisions and ultimately approved a curriculum that omitted the antisemitic and anti-Zionist content. In protest, though, the authors of the first draft withdrew their names from the state’s final approved curriculum and founded the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Institute (LESMC), and their curriculum is expected to be even more antisemitic than the original ESMC. The Liberated group’s website smears Israel with false charges of “settler colonialism” and “apartheid” and uses classic anti-Semitic tropes of Jewish wealth and power to vilify Jewish organizations speaking out about anti-Semitism; encourages teachers to “create a space within your school” to engage in anti-Zionist activism and to fight the “Zionist backlash,” identified as “white supremacy”; promotes anti-Zionist groups calling for Israel’s destruction; and provides “skill-building” and “training” on how to start your own BDS campaign. Making matters worse, the groups point out, is that the Liberated approach has been endorsed by the state’s two largest teachers’ unions, the California Teachers Association and the United Teachers of Los Angeles, and Cal State and UC ethnic studies departments, and Liberated has already been successful in promoting its curriculum and consulting services in Hayward, Santa Cruz, Jefferson, Salinas, San Francisco and San Diego school districts.

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