SWC Applauds Governor Newsom’s Call for an ‘Inclusive’ Ethnic Studies Curriculum

October 1, 2020

The SWC thanks Governor Gavin Newsom for focusing on improving the ethnic studies curriculum in his message on Assembly Bill 331 and agrees with the Governor that the current draft of the Ethnic Studies model curriculum needs further revisions. 

The Simon Wiesenthal Center reiterates its support for mandatory ethnic training for all students before they graduate a California high school and will work with Tony Thurmond, California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction and the California Department of Education (CDE) to ensure that the state’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum will be balanced and will incorporate “core values of equity, inclusiveness, and universally high expectations” for all of California’s diverse communities. 

“The Wiesenthal Center thanks the members of the Jewish Caucus, especially its Chair, Senator Ben Allen and Co-Chair, Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel for their leadership in placing ‘guardrails' in the legislation to minimize any adverse impact on the Jewish community," said Rabbi Meyer H. May, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Executive Director.  “The Simon Wiesenthal Center welcomes the opportunity to work with the Mr. Thurmond and the Jewish, African-American, Latino and Asian pacific Islander (API) caucuses of the California Legislature to make the necessary revisions to move the curriculum forward. As California is such an ethnically diverse state, a rigorous and pedagogically sound curriculum that meets the guidelines set by the CDE, would be of great benefit to teachers and students."

The SWC had expressed concern when the CDE announced three, last minute, major changes to the model curriculum including the addition of the Arab American experience, raising alarm over other curriculum that needed further improvement. While the SWC is not opposed to including the Arab American experience in any way, activists behind this newly added inclusion made it clear that they would use the curriculum as a platform to reintroduce content that had already been removed, namely the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and BDS.  

“The inclusion of the Arab American experience reopens the discussion about inclusivity of the Jewish American experience in the curriculum, particularly Jews of color, Jews from the Middle East, North Africa and Asia,” added Rabbi May. “Jews are an ethnic group that have historically faced discrimination and genocide. Today, Jews remain targets of hatred from both the far-left and far-right. We agree with the Governor that there is still work to be done in order to ensure the curriculum offers a safe and representative education for all California students,” he concluded.

For the past two decades, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance has been a proud and trusted partner to schools through professional development programs and educator resources. The Tools for Tolerance® for Educators program has served some 80,000 teachers and administrators positively impacting school climate throughout California and the United States.

For more information, please contact the Center's Communications Department at pressinquiries@wiesenthal.com, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent directly to your Twitter feed. 

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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