Photo Credit: Schott Foundation for Public Education training, via Flickr
Linda Darling-Hammond

After dozens of organizations exposed that several California school boards had been hoodwinked into approving a widely condemned and rejected ethnic studies curriculum by a group seeking to inject “highly controversial and divisive” political beliefs into what is taught in the state’s high school classrooms (California Schools Embrace ‘Offensive’ Ethnic Studies Curriculum Condemned by Governor Newsom), 2,503 Californians on Monday called for the California Board of Education to immediately address this “unscrupulous campaign to mislead district school boards.”

They addressed the petition to Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, State Board President, California State Board of Education.

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Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. She was also the President and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute. She is author or editor of more than 25 books and more than 500 articles on education policy and practice. Her work focuses on school restructuring, teacher education, and educational equity. She was education advisor to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and was reportedly among candidates for United States Secretary of Education in the Obama administration (Wiki).

Dear Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond,

We are California residents, taxpayers and concerned citizens, many of us with children and grandchildren in schools throughout the state. We are deeply concerned about an unscrupulous campaign to mislead district school boards into approving and making plans to implement the divisive and highly flawed first draft of the AB 2016-mandated high school ethnic studies model curriculum before it has been revised by the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), vetted by the public and adopted by the State Board of Education. Several school boards have already rubber-stamped resolutions affirming support for the unapproved draft curriculum and even committed their districts to moving forward with it, with more school boards expected to do the same in the coming months.

Shockingly, this deceptive campaign to circumvent the state’s curriculum revision process is being carried out by the same individuals who formerly worked with the IQC and were responsible for developing the original draft, which received an outpouring of public criticism from more than 19,000 Californians and dozens of state legislators. Governor Newsom stated, “We are united in our resolve to make sure the advisory committee draft is only that, a draft, that will be substantially amended… It will never see the light of day.”

Let us be clear: the original draft promotes highly controversial political ideologies that can’t help but exacerbate ethnic divisions and foment bigotry in our schools. This is not the ethnic studies curriculum that we want for our children, our school districts or our state.

Last August, you acknowledged that the first draft model curriculum “falls short and needs to be substantially redesigned.” As we eagerly await the promised revisions this fall, we ask that you immediately urge district school board members to wait until the state’s revision process is completed before affirming support for the ethnic studies curriculum or making plans to implement it in their district.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter and your leadership in these challenging times.

2,503 California Residents representing 215 California School Districts and 512 Non-California Citizens

In response to vast and scathing criticism from across the state when the curriculum was unveiled last August (Editorial: California’s proposed new ethnic studies curriculum is jargon-filled and all-too-PC Ethnic studies class), the California Board of Education announced a comprehensive revision process and designated officials to begin working on a new draft model curriculum. Although that process is currently underway and a new draft is slated to be released for public comment in the fall, those who wrote the original, rejected draft renamed themselves “Save CA Ethnic Studies” and are attempting to circumvent the state process. Thus far they have misled more than a dozen school boards into approving the rejected draft without informing them the draft has been widely condemned and was slated to be substantially revised or scrapped entirely by state education officials.

The petition was signed by 2,503 California residents from 215 school districts throughout the state, as well as 512 citizens from across the country who are concerned their states will follow California’s lead. The petition was launched after 88 national and state organizations sent a letter, coordinated by AMCHA Initiative, to the California Board of Education last week exposing the deceptive effort. According to the letter, district school boards, busy addressing the Covid-19 crisis, accepted the word of the so-called “Save CA Ethnic Studies” group and approved, and in some cases agreed to implement, the old curriculum that is now in the process of being rewritten. California school boards that have approved the old draft include: Albany, Alhambra, Castro Valley, Daly City, El Monte, Hayward, Jefferson Elementary (Daly City), Jefferson Union (Daly City), Oakland, San Francisco Unified, San Mateo-Foster City, Santa Rosa, South San Francisco, and West Contra Costa.

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