California Parents Sue over Anti-Semitic Materials in Public Schools

May 18, 2022 | Lori Lowenthal Marcus and Jesse Fried
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Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law requiring public-school students in California to complete a course in ethnic studies before graduating from high school. As Lori Lowenthal Marcus and Jesse Fried argue, this measure has created a captive audience for anti-Israel activists.

A creature of 1960s radical left-wing activism, ethnic studies was from the start about attacking the U.S., capitalism, and Zionism. Advocates—including teachers’-union officials, public-school teachers and other ideologues—have formed the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium, through which they hope to influence the teaching of ethnic studies in the state.

The consortium, which disseminates teaching materials lifted directly from radical anti-Israel websites, rejects the idea that all cultures should be studied. It asserts that ethnic studies is about only four groups: Native Americans, black Americans, Chicanos/Latinos, and Asian-Americans/Pacific Islanders. That last group includes Arabs from the Middle East—but not Jews, who’ve lived in that same region for millennia.

The consortium’s materials—many of which have been taken offline in recent months—are filled with attacks on Jews and the Jewish state. They deny that Jews are indigenous to the Middle East and teach that Israel is a “colonialist” and “settler state” founded through “genocide,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “apartheid.”

California law requires that publicly funded teaching materials be public, so that parents and taxpayers know what’s going on in the schools they use and pay for. But the consortium instructs teachers to violate that mandate. . . . The lawsuit has two aims: removal of teaching materials denouncing the plaintiffs’ sincerely held religious beliefs, and public disclosure of all ethnic-studies materials in Los Angeles public schools.

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