by Casey Ryan
Parents are understandably concerned with the divisive curricula now taught in America’s schools. Ideas like critical race theory and extreme gender ideology often replace the subjects traditionally taught in core classes like science and social studies. Students no longer learn the importance of our nation’s history. They learn a warped worldview that divides us into the oppressors and the oppressed.
This dangerous ideology has grown only more prominent with the introduction of ethnic studies in our nation’s schools, with a new California law soon mandating courses on the subject. While ethnic studies might sound benign, it is simply CRT under a different name, focusing on a once unimaginable bigotry: antisemitism.
The Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium explicitly states on its website that “Critical Race Theory is one of the many theoretical lenses used in Ethnic Studies.” LESMC has a history of pushing schools to adopt anti-Israel and anti-Jewish lessons and advocacy with its program.
The consulting firm previously promoted a “toolkit” titled “Preparing to Teach Palestine” that explained teachers “might want to center gentrification and forced relocation” in their lessons. This would be part of an effort to educate students about the “impact of continuing colonial control on water resources at the US/Mexico border and in Gaza.” The full “toolkit” explains that “teaching the truth about the history of the US is a liberatory act” and that “teaching the truth about Palestine is also a liberatory act.”
LESMC appears to have a significant influence over a major school district with more than 600,000 students. Parents Defending Education reported that Guadalupe Carrasco Cardona filed for LESMC “to become a 501c (3) corporation with the state of California” in February 2021. Her profile on the consulting firm’s website lists her as a “lead” of the organization and explains that she is a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s “Ethnic Studies Curriculum Committee.” Her LinkedIn profile shows that she is still a “theatre and journalism teacher” at the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center within the district.
In August 2020, the LAUSD passed a resolution mandating that high school students complete at least one ethnic studies course to graduate. A goal of the district’s course is to teach students about so-called forms of oppression that include “capitalism” and “cisheteropatriarchy.” Antisemitism soon followed.
In September 2021, PDE reported that classroom decorations at Alexander Hamilton High School included a Palestinian flag and a sign that exclaimed “make Israel Palestine again.” PDE later reported that another sign in the classroom pushed students to honor “Palestinian mothers with children in Israeli jails.”
This is not just a West Coast problem. While LESMC is a major contributor in the spread of antisemitic disinformation in California, more organizations and individuals are spreading this evil ideology to students in schools throughout the country.
The Passaic County Education Associations in New Jersey sent an email to teachers earlier this year promoting a “summer series” from the “Democratic Socialists of America BDS and Palestine Solidarity Working Group.” The purpose of this series was to “equip” teachers “with the knowledge and practices needed to bring the truth about Palestine into our classrooms.” One session of this series intended to teach educators about “heroic resistance to Zionism.”
In another incident that occurred in May 2021, a Fairfax County, Virginia, school board member stated that it “hurts my heart to celebrate while Israel kills Palestinians & desecrates the Holy Land right now.” She added that “apartheid & colonization were wrong yesterday and will be today, here and there.”
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that students in fourth grade nationwide had “the worst drop in math and reading scores in decades” since the pandemic hit the U.S. This included “the largest drop in reading scores since 1990 and the first statistically significant decline in math scores” since 1973. While our nation’s students are struggling more than they have in decades, our schools are choosing to spend valuable classroom time – and taxpayer money – on ethnic studies courses that provide no benefit and, on the contrary, promote bigotry.
Students are no longer learning the importance of our nation’s history or even the most basic life skills that will help them succeed in their careers. The focus of our schools is misguided, and our education system must change course before more irreparable harm is inflicted on our nation’s youth.
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Casey Ryan is a staff writer at Parents Defending Education.
Photo “Students in Class” by Yan Krukov.