(Photo: LA Times)
In the summer of 2019, state education officials released a first draft of the model curriculum to intense controversy, particularly from Jewish groups, including the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, whose members objected to their lack of inclusion and a perception that the curriculum and sample lesson plans were anti-Semitic.
After a lengthy public comment and revision process, officials issued a new draft in July, which the caucus said “addresses the most critical concerns raised by our community last year.” But when it later became clear that the curriculum would include a sample lesson on Arab Americans, many Jewish and other ethnic groups once again mobilized.
Sarah Levin, executive director of Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, said her group supports “high-quality, rigorous ethnic studies” but wants to see the curriculum include “balance in its portrayal” of Middle Eastern communities and “equitable representation” for other groups, such as Iranian Americans, Kurdish Americans, and Mizrahi Jews. She said also that the curriculum should include a lesson plan on anti-Semitism.
“Let’s continue improving this and getting this to the right place where we’re all content and where we all feel like we’re meaningfully included,” she said. Daniel Thigpen, a spokesman for the California Dept. of Education, said it had received at least 9,000 letters from the public on the latest curriculum draft.