For Immediate Release
August 23, 2023

In a letter sent today to all school leaders across California, Governor Gavin Newsom and the State Board of Education provided 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.

The letter highlights:

  • The positive contributions ethnic studies can make towards inclusiveness among California’s diverse student body
  • 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
  • The model curriculum and included lesson plans on Jewish Americans and other communities that reflect the demographics of their district
  • The fact that “some vendors are offering materials that may not meet the requirements of AB 101” and that curriculum and instructional materials for ethnic studies courses need to be closely scrutinized to ensure they meet requirements

This letter comes after advocacy by a statewide Jewish coalition led by the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC) on the enforcement of important guardrails included in AB 101, which made ethnic studies a graduation requirement in California. Over the summer, leaders from JCRC Bay Area, JPAC, and our partners met with the Governor’s office to discuss how some districts, in their implementation of new ethnic studies curriculums, are working with independent contractors and organizations that promote bias against Jews, Judaism, and Israel.

In the months ahead, JCRC will continue working with leadership statewide and school districts across the Bay Area on ethnic studies implementation. When antisemitism encroaches into our education system, JCRC acts through our Education Initiative to ensure inclusive classrooms where Jewish students feel safe, accepted, and included.

JCRC Bay Area is the largest collective voice of Bay Area Jews, working in pursuit of a more just world where Jewish identity is embraced and all people thrive. By building bridges and working in coalition with diverse ethnic, faith, political, and civic communities, we foster partnerships, provide meaningful educational and engagement opportunities, and build consensus for actionable solutions to real-world challenges.