Cooler and wiser heads seem to be prevailing in the justified controversy over the new California ethnic studies curriculum.
The Legislature passed a measure in 2016 requiring the curriculum be written and in use by March 31, 2020. The comment period closed Aug. 15 and it’s likely headed for some serious revisions.
A committee, heavy on academics, produced the draft curriculum that has been widely panned. Hundreds of negative comments have been received and last week state schools Superintendent Tony Thurmond and leaders of the Jewish caucus in the Legislature strongly called for a fresh look.
Jewish people are rightly concerned because the draft largely ignores anti-Semitism and identifies Israel largely on the basis of “oppression of the Palestinians” and barely mentions the Holocaust.
The CalMatters piece reporting on the controversy quoted R. Toltkea Cuauhtin, a member of the advisory committee on the project. He defended the use of academic speak, “misogynoir, cisheteropatriachy, hxrstory” as appropriate as it is use to use technical terms in a chemistry class.
Please. One of the writing lessons I learned decades ago is if I use a six-bit word that confuses the reader instead of a two-bit word, I’ve failed in the goal to communicate effectively. The academic needs to apply the same thinking.
The glossary also portrays the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions anti-Israel movement in an amazingly one-sided way. The movement is defined as a “global social movement that aims to establish freedom for Palestinians living under apartheid conditions.” A devoted pro-Palestine state advocate would not have put it any better.
Sadly, this reflects the way liberal and progressive thinking dominates education, particularly at the collegiate level.
I opened an oped by Penny Vance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, about her concerns about the orientation day for her freshman son at Virginia Tech. The name badge for each student included not only name and major, but also the preferred pronouns to accompany his gender.
She observed that the school offered Halal food, but no certified kosher meals and encouraged students not to make assumptions about fellow students’ gender or sexuality.
Vance wrote, “Why should a public institution be allowed to violate teachers’ First Amendment rights by bullying them into using the made-up terms they/them, zie/zim, ey/em (or about 60 more) instead of she/her or he/him? The reordering of centuries of grammar usage is an offensive overcorrection, and it bullies Christians, Muslims, and other students into violating their consciences to appease a small group of nonsensical identity politics warriors.”