Education

Against California’s Ethnic-Studies Curriculum

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To graduate from high school in the state of California, students have to take just three years of English and two years of math. Democrats in the state are now trying to add another subject to these paltry requirements, which are among the most lax and lenient in the nation. Chemistry, biology, physics, history, geography, civics, and foreign languages have all been passed over. As it turns out, the subject that California’s political machine wants taught to all children in the state without exception is ethnic studies. Today, the state’s Board of Education will vote on whether or not to approve a model curriculum for this subject to be used in each and every Californian public school. The state legislature has signaled its intention to make the curriculum mandatory if the Board of Education gives its approval. If such a bill is signed into law, ethnic studies will be the only subject in California with the same pedagogical priority in K–12 classrooms as reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed legislation to this effect due to a lack of clarity about the proposed draft curriculum, which was then unfinished. The Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum has since been completed and has undergone three draft revisions. The Board of Education will examine the final, 894-page version today.

The proposed Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum is probably the most radical, polemical, and ideologically loaded educational document ever offered up for public consideration in the free world. Even after all of the many revisions made to the document, it remains at bottom a political catechism, clearly formulated for the purpose of indoctrinating children into the intersectional electoral priorities of the far Left.

The first draft of the curriculum was so far outside the boundaries of the Overton window in California that it was rejected out of hand by the Board of Education, the governor, and even by the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, who ridiculed it as an “impenetrable mélange of academic jargon and politically correct pronouncements.” One of its lesson plans included a list of 154 influential people of color but omitted to mention Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, or even the late congressman John Lewis. Pol Pot, however, the architect of the Cambodian genocide, did make an appearance, alongside other violent revolutionaries.

Antisemitism has also plagued the development of the model curriculum from the start. An early draft listed the anti-Semitic BDS campaign alongside Black Lives Matter and #MeToo as an example of an historic American social movement and also referred to the 1948 Israeli War of Independence only as the “Nakba,” an Arabic word meaning “catastrophe.” Even in the final version of the curriculum, Jews have been relegated to an appendix. Their outsized contribution to American life does not warrant a place in the core content of the course in the eyes of the curriculum’s authors.

It was hoped by many that the criticism directed at early drafts of the document would be taken under advisement by its authors and its backers, leading to a more palatable final version. These hopes were misplaced. Changes have been made to the curriculum, particularly to address, or perhaps to better conceal, the naked anti-Semitism of earlier iterations. But the radicalism of the document hasn’t been blunted in any significant way. As evidence of this, we need only look at the part of the curriculum that has to do with religion. White Christians are accused of having committed “theocide” against indigenous peoples, murdering their gods and replacing them with the god of the Bible. This, students are told, has led directly to “coloniality, dehumanization, and genocide,” and to the “explicit erasure and replacement of holistic Indigeneity and humanity.” In response, students are encouraged to establish for their generation a new social order characterized by “countergenocide” and “counterhegemony,” which will eventually allow for the “regeneration of indigenous epistemic and cultural futurity.”

As far as the religious content of the curriculum is concerned, the bill’s proponents may even have overplayed their hand from a constitutional perspective. Teachers are encouraged by the authors of the curriculum to lead students in traditional indigenous chants, songs, and prayers to the Aztec gods. One lesson plan recommends that students clap and chant to the god Tezkatlipoka — traditionally worshipped with human sacrifice and cannibalism — asking him to grant students the power to be “warriors” for “social justice.” For obvious reasons, this kind of religious instruction in public schools runs afoul of the First Amendment. No doubt James Madison would have been surprised to learn that the Constitution would one day stand athwart Tezkatlipoka yelling “Stop!” — but he would not, we think, be displeased at such a development.

If this curriculum is endorsed by California’s Board of Education and manages somehow to pass constitutional muster, 6 million American children could soon have it forced upon them from the age of 5 or 6 all the way up through the dawn of their adulthood. How many of them will be able to resist such a consistent and widespread program of indoctrination? It would be bad enough for California and the country if an initiative like this were being spearheaded and sponsored by private actors, but on top of everything else, the curriculum’s political backers are asking American taxpayers to foot the bill.

As board members cast their votes, they must ask themselves, “How would this curriculum look different if it had been written by America’s worst enemies, by all of the bad actors in the world who would relish the sight of American society collapsing in upon itself?” If they can answer that question honestly, they’ll do their duty and stop this document in its tracks. If they can’t, another bill mandating the curriculum state-wide will soon land on Governor Newsom’s desk. The governor must make it clear that any such proposal will be vetoed yet again. Otherwise, it will fall to the courts to spare the children of California the fate of an early life lived as lab rats for the state’s most insane and depraved would-be social engineers.

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