AMCHA Denounces California Legislature’s Passage of AB 101 - Ethnic Studies Graduation Requirement Bill
Calls on Governor to Veto Bill that Opens the Door to Antisemitism in CA High Schools
Contact: Nicole Rosen
Santa Cruz, CA, September 9, 2021 – AMCHA Initiative Director, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, today issued the following statement in opposition to the California Legislature’s passage of AB 101:
“Every member of the Jewish community in California and across the country should be deeply concerned about the passage of AB 101. Although many have devoted countless hours and tireless efforts to ensuring this bill would not inject antisemitism and anti-Zionism into California’s classrooms, including recently added amendments that encourage local school districts to adopt the state-approved Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC), the bill that passed does not, and by law cannot, prohibit schools from teaching the overtly antisemitic and roundly rejected first draft of the ESMC, or an even more extreme Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum being vigorously promoted throughout the state.
“One amendment states that it is the ‘intent of the Legislature’ that local school districts use the state-approved curriculum and not use ‘portions of the draft model curriculum that were not adopted,’ and while well-intentioned, it does not, and cannot, prohibit a school district from using the antisemitic first draft of the model curriculum, or the even more extreme and antisemitic Liberated curriculum Another amendment requiring local school districts to publicly vet any ethnic studies curriculum other than the state-approved ESMC puts the onus of fighting against the Liberated curriculum on parents in individual school districts. But given that there are over 1,000 school districts in California, it is unrealistic and unfair to expect parents in each and every district to publicly challenge an antisemitic curriculum like the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, that has already garnered support from the state’s major teachers’ unions and ethnic studies departments and faculty in the state’s public universities. And with regard to the so-called ‘guardrail’ language being touted by the bill’s supporters as ensuring that hate and bigotry against Jews and Israelis will be kept out of ethnic studies classrooms, that language is simply a restatement of a state law that has been on the books for decades, and as we have seen from ethnic studies taught on the college level, these so-called ‘guardrails’ will do nothing to prevent a curriculum or teacher from portraying Jews and Israel in antisemitic and anti-Zionist ways. Even more frightening, the group of activist-educators peddling the Liberated curriculum have already had success promoting their curriculum and consulting services in many school districts throughout the state, including Hayward, Santa Cruz, Jefferson, Salinas, San Francisco and San Diego.”
“Despite the efforts of the Legislative Jewish Caucus and some Jewish organizations, the reality is that there is no way these amendments can prevent antisemitic curricula like the first draft or even the more overtly antisemitic Liberated curriculum from finding their way into California classrooms, especially given their support from the state’s major teachers’ unions and the ethnic studies higher education community. The only way to ensure these antisemitic curricula will not make their way into classrooms on a wide scale is if the Governor vetoes this bill, which we urge him to do."
Rossman-Benjamin was the first to expose the way in which the discipline of Critical Ethnic Studies is deeply antisemitic and anti-Zionist. AMCHA has led several coalition efforts to educate officials about the dangers of a curriculum based on Critical Ethnic Studies. AMCHA’s Director, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, has testified before the California Senate Education Committee and the Assembly Education Committee against AB 101, and provided evidence that if AB 101 becomes law, most school districts will adopt some version of the rejected antisemitic first draft.
AMCHA monitors more than 450 college campuses across the U.S. for anti-Semitic activity. The organization has recorded more than 3,500 anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses since 2015. Its daily Anti-Semitism Tracker, organized by state and university, can be viewed here.
AMCHA Initiative is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism at colleges and universities in the United States.