Save Arab-American Studies

TAKE ACTION: Save Arab-American Studies

The biggest education system in the US—California’s—is about to make an incredibly consequential decision about what kind of state we are:

Will we institute a historic Ethnic Studies curriculum uplifting the stories, cultures, and traditions of communities of color and their struggles for justice?(1)

Or will we distort and reject a curriculum that includes the living history of Arab-Americans, bending to the desires of pro-Israeli interest groups who simply don’t agree?(2) 

Our elected officials are under tremendous pressure to erase Arab Americans from the Ethnic Studies curriculum, which is currently proposed to be part of Asian American Studies.(3) But if we take action now, with demands for inclusion and justice, we can save Ethnic Studies in our state and set an important precedent for the country.

Use our one-click letter-writing tool to contact your state representative now: Don’t shut out Arab-American experiences from students’ education in California. 

California was on its way to making history with instituting the first statewide EthnicStudies curriculum.

Then something happened at the last minute. Arab-American Studies was singled out to be cut from the curriculum.

Let’s be really clear on why.

A key part of the Arab-American experience is the struggle for justice in Palestine — the inclusion of Palestinian liberation efforts in the curriculum has led to immense pressure on CDE to remove Arab-American history and culture altogether.(4)  We must reject this, and we need your help.

Join the groundswell of voices sounding the alarm on anti-Arab bigotry. Let Superintendent Tony Thurmond and your Representatives know: California must choose inclusion and justice for all over the discomfort of a few. 

Here’s a quick run-down of where we are now:

California’s Department of Education (CDE) is putting the finishing touches on a Curriculum for the state — known as the AB2016 CA Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum — which would bring Ethnic Studies education to public high schools throughout the state.

Ethnic Studies education, put most simply, re-centers the histories, cultures and social justice struggles of indigenous people and people of color who have been dispossessed and exploited on the basis of race in the United States. Every student benefits from EthnicStudies — where it’s been instituted, students have consistently seen improvements in metrics ranging from graduation rates, to GPA, to sense of belonging. It makes school feel relevant — and, of course, corrects a long-present imbalance in students whose histories are and are not taught in school in the first place.(5)

Efforts to undermine or water-down any critical components of the draft, and of EthnicStudies as a field need to be rejected.

We are all well-aware of the targeted attacks on Arabs and Muslims by the Trump administration and the demonization of the struggle of migrants and people of color.  We must not tolerate a continuation of these sorts of racist attacks in California.

We’re directing our letter to our state representatives who can still intervene and do the right thing:

Can you take a minute to let them know, as a Californian, and a progressive of conscience, that you’re calling on them to let our state be a positive example in an era of widespread anti-Arab bigotry and Islamophobia?

Let’s include Arab-Americans studies in our high schools, and not shy away when it means educating students on Palestine.

Let them know you want them to stand with you on the side of inclusion and dignity of Arab-Americans.

1. “Controversial California Ethnic Studies Curriculum Moves Forward, Could Roll Out In 2020,” Sacramento Bee, Sept 21, 2019
2. “Israeli App Claims Victory Over Ethnic Studies In California,” Electronic Intifada: Lobby Watch, Sept 27, 2019
3. Ethnic Studies in California: Asian American Scholars Defend Inclusion of Arab American Studies,” The Davis Vanguard, January 12, 2020
4. “Critics Slam Draft of California Ethnic Studies Curriculum As Far-Left, Anti-Jewish Propaganda,” Washington Post, August 14, 2019
5. “Stanford Study Suggests Academic Benefits to Ethnic Studies Courses,” Stanford University, Jan 12, 2016