A Joint Letter to Our Community on Ethnic Studies

Dear friends,

For the last 18 months, we — the organizations represented below — have all been working to ensure that the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum that the California Department of Education is creating will not discriminate against Jews and will represent all Jewish Americans. Our organizations have used different advocacy strategies and we have presented a range of ideas to the Department that have been integrated into the draft curriculum. We have been united in our cause, and our loud voices — thanks to thousands of you taking action when we called — have been heard.

In the last few weeks, numerous articles have been published in the Jewish press on the topic of ethnic studies in our California classrooms. These recent articles have often misrepresented and misinformed on many of the details of the issue, its progression, and the ongoing advocacy work that all of our institutions have been doing. Those misrepresentations include:

  • Referencing excerpts from a first draft of the curriculum that are no longer present in the current third draft of the curriculum;
  • False and out-of-context references in the lesson plans on Jewish Americans, which are still being revised; and
  • Failure to properly present the full timeline and scope of advocacy work done by a diverse coalition of Jewish organizations.

While the curriculum is improved from where we started, it is not yet finalized and there remain problems that must be addressed. Ethnic studies will always be a subject matter that incorporates different narratives — and that can be exploited to discriminate against Jews. We know some groups are still trying to promote anti-Israel narratives within Ethnic Studies and trying to bypass the State Board of Education to have local school districts endorse the earlier unacceptable versions of the curriculum.

We will keep you informed as this issue continues to progress. We encourage you to stay involved with all of us because there is still work to be done. We continue to commit time and resources to tracking developments at the legislative level as well as at the grassroots level, including in our local classrooms. Throughout this long and arduous process, our goal has always been to support ethnic studies as a positive reflection of the history and diversity of all Californians, and we appreciate your partnership in doing so.


The Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund mobilizes innovation, collaboration, and investment to shape diverse and dynamic Bay Area Jewish communities where people find a meaningful connection to Judaism and each other; and where we work together to better lives and communities locally, in Israel, and around the world. Learn more at jewishfed.org.

For immediate release

February 11, 2021