In efforts to censor Palestinian and Arab scholarship and shield Israel from criticism at all costs, lobby groups have waged a war on a state-mandated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum for several years.
“What started off as an attack on the inclusion of Palestine – and Arab American studies – in the curriculum evolved into an all-out assault on anti-colonial education, on anti-racist education, on liberatory transformative education for students in California by the same forces, essentially, that tried to stop ethnic studies from being formed in 1968,” Kiswani, director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center and a lecturer at San Francisco State University, says.
Kelley, an eminent historian and professor at UCLA, joined other Black scholars including Cornel West, Barbara Ransby and Marc Lamont Hill to urge the California Department of Education to not approve the version of the curriculum that had been altered by Israel lobby pressure.
In response, all 20 scholars who drafted the original denounced the latest version of the curriculum and demanded that their names be removed.
“Broadly speaking, this is not an ethnic studies curriculum at all,” Robin Kelley tells us.
“It’s a multi-cultural, multi-racial curriculum that doesn’t attend to issues of power, which is precisely why you have an ethnic studies curriculum in the first place: to really understand not just that we’re different, but how difference is produced and creates these inequalities,” he adds.
Fighting back, ethnic studies scholars have released an independent curriculum for California educators.
The Save Arab American Studies Coalition, Kiswani notes, is helping to strategize and coordinate ways for educators to ensure and protect the needs of all students.
“We lost the battle over the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, but the war continues,” Kiswani says.
Articles we discussed
- “Lobby trying to reshape California education to shield Israel,” Nora Barrows-Friedman
- “Israeli app claims victory over ethnic studies in California,” Nora Barrows-Friedman
Video production by Tamara Nassar
Theme music by Sharif Zakout
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