JPAC Applauds Governor Newsom’s Ethnic Studies Guidance
August 23, 2023
SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom and the State Board of Education sent a letter to all public schools in California providing critical guidance on “Ethnic Studies Curriculum and Instructional Materials.” We appreciate the commitment that Governor Newsom and the State Board of Education have shown to ensure fair and equitable treatment for Jewish—and all students—in our K-12 public schools.
In a letter to every public school, the Administration reminded them:
- About the positive contributions ethnic studies can make towards inclusiveness among California’s diverse student body.
- Of the legal requirements to “not reflect or promote, directly or indirectly, any bias, bigotry, or discrimination against any person or group of persons on the basis of any category protected by Education Code Section 220” that curriculum and instructional materials must meet.
- That the state offers a widely accepted model curriculum that includes the experience of Jewish Americans and other communities.
- That schools should be on the lookout for and refrain from using vendors who are promoting curricula similar to the rejected first draft of the model curriculum.
JPAC leads a broad coalition of Jewish organizations across the state who want to see a robust ethnic studies course taught in high schools, ensure it is free from antisemitism and anti-Zionism, and ensure it includes lessons about the Jewish American experience.
This Summer, JPAC spearheaded a coalition letter to the Governor, Attorney General, and Superintendent of Public Instruction urging them to write a letter of this nature to all school districts. JPAC subsequently organized meetings with senior administration officials and leaders in the California Department of Justice and California Department of Education and maintained regular communication with the officials leading up to the release of this letter. The Legislative Jewish Caucus supported these efforts by urging the state leaders to heed the coalition’s requests.
“We thank Governor Newsom and the State Board of Education for delivering yet again with this letter,” said David Bocarsly, JPAC Executive Director. “The Governor has been a consistent ally to the Jewish community, particularly throughout the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) development process.” There is still a lot of work ahead to implement robust ethnic studies courses across California’s schools that are also free from antisemitism and anti-Zionism. This is a major step in the right direction, and we know the Governor will continue to work with us in this effort.”
In the months ahead, JPAC will continue working with leadership statewide and coordinating the efforts of our coalition on local ethnic studies implementation. As the voice of California’s Jewish community to the state capitol, and the largest single-state coalition of Jewish organizations in America, JPAC is well-positioned to lead our community’s organizing efforts to ensure inclusive classrooms where Jewish students feel safe, accepted, and included.
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Contact: David Bocarsly, JPAC Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org