California’s Proposed ‘Ethnic Studies’ Curriculum Lauds Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib

US Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) and US Representative from Michigan Rashida Tlaib
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

California’s proposed new model “ethnic studies’ curriculum for children in public high schools includes several controversial topics — including the study of Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) as important leaders.

A section of the model curriculum proposes that students learn about “significant figures” in the Arab-American community, including Omar, Tlaib, and Palestinian-American radical Linda Sarsour — all of whom have been widely accused of antisemitism for the extreme rhetoric they use in criticizing Israel and those who support it.

A section on “African American Studies” proposes learning about Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been on death row for years after being convicted of the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, but whose case has become a cause célèbre on the left and who has received statements of support from some California teachers.

Parts of the proposed curriculum read like a manual for future left-wing activists. A second on “social movements” encourages students to study Black Lives Matter; the Occupy movement; the anti-Israel “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” movement; and the LGBTQ movement. Conservative movements like the Tea Party are excluded.

The language of the radical left also appears in the document: “histories” is replaced by “hxrstories,” for example, in a section on “Chicana/o/x and Latina/o/x Studies,” with the “x” ensuring no bias toward “cis-heteropatriarchy.”

There are parts that feature “arguments on both sides,” such as a proposed unit on the controversy over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. But there is no discussion of ethnic groups with some European origins. Jewish Americans, for example, do not feature at all in the state’s proposed model “ethnic studies” program.

Jewish Democrats in the state legislature, who are often supportive of left-wing causes, are also concerned about the model curriculum’s approach to Israel and to Jews more generally. “[W]e cannot support a curriculum that erases the American Jewish experience, fails to discuss anti-Semitism, reinforces negative stereotypes about Jews, singles out Israel for criticism and would institutionalize the teaching of anti-Semitic stereotypes in our public schools,” the California Legislative Jewish Caucus — all Democrats — wrote in a recent letter to California education officials (as reported by Jewish News Syndicate, which also links to the model ethnic studies curriculum as a Word document).

The ethnic studies curriculum, prepared under a 2016 law, has drawn criticism from the left-leaning editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, which wrote that the model curriculum “is an impenetrable melange of academic jargon and politically correct pronouncements. It’s hard to wade through all the references to hxrstory and womxn and misogynoir and cisheteropatriarchy. … [It] feels like an exercise in groupthink, designed to proselytize and inculcate more than to inform and open minds. It talks about critical thinking but usually offers one side and one side only.”

A bill introduced by Democrats in January would make at least one semester of ethnic studies mandatory for all students enrolled in public high schools, including charter schools, in the State of California by 2024-5.

Update: The California Department of Education has announced that the model curriculum would be redrafted.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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