California becomes the first state to break down Black employee data by lineage

Of interest. Will be interesting to see the comparative outcomes:

California is the first state to require its agencies to present a separate demographic category for descendants of enslaved people when collecting state employee data.

According to a recently signed law, the State Controller’s Office and the Department of Human Resources can start collecting this information as soon as Jan. 1, 2024.

These demographic categories will include African Americans who are descendants of people who were enslaved in the United States and Black employees who are not descendants of people who were enslaved in the United States.

The data collected will be included in a public state report on or after Jan. 1, 2025.

Employees will not be required to disclose this demographic information, but advocates who have been pushing for this expansion of data collection say it is for the Black community’s benefit, according to the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California.

In recent years, the state has been working to determine whether the state will pay reparations to Black Californians, particularly those who are descendants of slaves. And this year, the California Reparations Task Force affirmed lineage-based eligibility for state reparations — meaning only people who can prove they are descendants of slaves would be eligible.

“Not only will this historic legislation provide critical and timely information to California’s Reparations Task Force, which recently affirmed lineage based eligibility for California Reparations, this legislation begins the process of recognizing the identity and peoplehood of African Americans/American
Freedmen in California whose ancestors came to America in chains, were enslaved for hundreds of years, suffered Jim Crow, and yet managed to build the most powerful and wealthiest country in the world,” the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California said in its news release.

The statement went on to say, “In addition, this legislation is a model for states and localities across the country seeking to take serious steps toward repairing the damage done to the identities and livelihoods of African Americans/American Freedmen for over 400 years.”

Chris Lodgson, the lead organizer of the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California, told Axios that Black Californians who are descendants of U.S. slaves are subject to shocking economic disparities and oppression.

Lodgson told the news outlet that this mandate to collect detailed demographic information from state employees will open the door to revealing disparities in income, careers and leadership within California state agencies.

“You can’t fix a problem until you see it, until you acknowledge it,” Lodgson told Axios.

Source: California becomes the first state to break down Black employee data by lineage

Caste has become a university diversity issue in the US

Hard to imagine that this also happens in Canada to some extent given the large number of South Asian students and grateful for information readers may have:

Many international students from disadvantaged groups hope to leave the entrenched social structures and caste discrimination behind and start afresh as they come to the United States or elsewhere. 

But to their consternation and horror, some South Asian students have found that caste discrimination is alive and well overseas, particularly where there is a large South Asia diaspora or foreign students on campus.

Mounting evidence of such discriminatory treatment and harassment led the California State University (CSU) system to add caste to its list of protected groups in January, prohibiting caste-based discrimination, harassment or retaliation. Other universities in the US are examining whether they should do the same. 

The CSU system, with some 485,000 students and about 56,000 faculty and staff, is sending a signal out to the rest of the university sector that caste discrimination exists and that affected students and staff require protection, say inclusivity activists who have campaigned for years to include caste-oppressed students and faculty. They have called the CSU decision an important civil rights win. 

“This is very important because we can now feel safer,” said Prem Pariyar, who recently graduated from CSU’s East Bay campus with a masters degree in social work. He began the campaign for caste protection at East Bay and helped extend it across CSU’s 23 campuses. 

“At least now the university has a policy to recognise our pain and to recognise our issues,” he told University World News. “In the US people are conscious about race and religion and the like but they did not know about caste discrimination.”

“Being a protected category is important as it means people like me [and] other students will feel more comfortable to go and complain. Before adding caste as a protected category, even if students reported to the administration, they would not understand what it is. It is not racial discrimination, but it is the same logic.”

Michael Uhlenkamp, senior director of public affairs in the CSU Chancellors Office, said: “While caste protections were inherently included in previous CSU non-discrimination policies, the decision to specifically name caste in the interim policy reflects the CSU’s commitment to inclusivity and respect, making certain each and every one of our 23 CSU campuses is a place of access, opportunity and equity for all.” 

“The existing processes for reporting instances of discrimination, whether based on caste or any of the categories listed in the policy, still apply,” he added. 

‘Long overdue’

“It’s long overdue. This was a campaign that we were working on for almost two and a half years,” said Thenmozhi Soundararajan, executive director of Equality Labs, a US-based civil rights organisation fighting for the rights of Dalits, a low-caste group formerly known as ‘untouchables’.

Equality Labs has been advising institutions and companies in the US. It carried out the first survey of Dalit discrimination among the South Asian diaspora in the US in 2016. In a sample of 1,500 respondents, “the numbers are high – one in four experience some form of physical or verbal assaults, one in three face discrimination in terms of their education and two out of three face workplace discrimination,” Soundararajan told University World News.

The survey was instrumental in convincing the CSU system to include caste in their policy, along with students like Pariyar, himself a Dalit, who were willing to speak out. 

“The whole process of educating and transforming these institutions towards caste equity has been one of very powerful testimony, and storytelling by really courageous and bold caste-oppressed students and faculty and campus community members. 

“And doing so under very difficult environments where caste bigots were literally intimidating, harassing and doxing them,” said Soundararajan, who is also a visiting scholar at the Center for South Asia, Stanford University. 

Soundararajan points to various types of campus discrimination – including discrimination with housing, work or student groups “openly using caste slurs and other microaggressions as well as more serious cases of gender-based violence like harassment and assault”. 

Equality Labs has been advising a large number of universities and colleges in the US, including providing advice from legal scholars “who have already done some thinking about this – we’ve worked with many institutions, large and small on these issues”.

“In our countries of origin, while there are laws to protect against caste oppression, there is a great deal of impunity and a lack of political will to enforce them. In the United States, however, because of the struggles of black and indigenous and other communities of colour, civil rights laws still have teeth,” Soundararajan explained.

“Increasingly, American institutions that are concerned about their liability related to civil rights and human rights compliance are proactively adding caste and making it explicit,” she noted. “When it’s not explicit, all the things that come from [being] a protected category don’t exist within the campuses’ or institutions’ purview.”

But universities are also key to educating society in general. “In making caste a protected category, institutions of higher learning are positioned to take the critical issue of caste oppression and discrimination seriously and to render it visible,” said Angana Chatterji, cultural anthropologist and scholar at the University of California (UC) Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender.

“Such commitment is imperative to deepening the study of caste and generative of new knowledge formations attentive to its intersections with gender and race. And to developing support systems, curricula and interventions to dismantle caste oppression and caste privilege within the university,” she added.

Often invisible

Caste harassment can often be invisible to those outside the South Asian community, but that does not mean it does not exist outside Asia. 

“I have been experiencing caste discrimination from my childhood, but I did not imagine that caste discrimination exists in the US, but then I experienced it myself. I was discriminated against within campus and outside campus,” said Pariyar, who is from Nepal. His caste are often not allowed to sit at the same table as higher castes or share food. 

Pariyar, who arrived in the US in 2015, said other South Asians “will ask your name, what does your father do. Their intention is to know my caste identity. In the beginning the conversation is respectful, but after knowing my caste identity that respect is gone,” he said.

“This is happening in California and not just in California but elsewhere in the US,” he added, saying he was left embarrassed, humiliated and depressed by these experiences and preferred not to go to get-togethers, house parties or other parties where there were other South Asian students present. 

Others who face caste discrimination are often reluctant to speak out because, in effect, it means revealing their caste origins. Some of them drop their surname or adopt a caste-neutral surname.  

“Many people do not feel comfortable talking about this type of discrimination and they want to hide their identity because they want to be protected; they don’t want harassment from dominant-caste people,” noted Pariyar, who says he is talking to other campuses about similar protections, including the University of California system – separate from the California State University system – starting with UC Berkeley. 

“We have to take it step by step,” said Pariyar, noting the victories in the CSU system and elsewhere along the way. 

The wording varies in different institutions. Brandeis University added this category in December 2019 that says caste is a recognised and protected characteristic in the school’s anti-discrimination policy. In September 2021, UC Davis added ‘caste or perceived caste’ as a category to its anti-discrimination policy. 

Colby College of Maine revised its non-discrimination policy to add caste to its list of ‘protections for the campus community’. In December 2021 Harvard, the first Ivy League university to do so, “added protections for caste-oppressed students” to its graduate student union contract.

Before CSU included it more broadly, some student and faculty organisations passed resolutions last year calling on the university to add caste to its anti-discrimination policy. These include the California Faculty Association, a CSU labour union, as part of their collective bargaining agreement, and Cal State Student Association, a non-profit representing students across the university, in April 2021.

“The student resolutions really matter because when the voice of the students from all 22 campuses say ‘we need this’, it’s huge. So that began the engagement with the [CSU] Chancellor’s office, and they have their own legal team. So they’re confident about the choices,” said Soundararajan. “But we also connected them with top legal scholars on caste in the United States.”

Periyar says it was an uphill battle. When the CSU-wide resolution came up, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), a Hindu lobby group, vehemently opposed it. Its website includes a comment by Sunil Kumar, professor of engineering at San Diego State University. 

Rather than redressing discrimination, “it will actually cause discrimination by unconstitutionally singling out and targeting Hindu faculty of Indian and South Asian descent as members of a suspect class because of deeply entrenched, false stereotypes about Indians, Hindus and caste,” he said. 

HAF had been virtually silent until then, perhaps not understanding the significance of student and faculty resolutions. But Pariyar counters: “This policy is not dividing. It is a policy of inclusion. There are marginalised students and they need to be included.”

Berkeley’s Chatterji said: “Hindu nationalist organisations in the diaspora have repeatedly attempted to silence conversations around caste oppression, gender and Islamophobia. If systems of higher education in California determine to make caste a protected category, it will have an impact not just on California, but nationally.”

A ‘caste curriculum’

Becoming more inclusive is also important in the context of broadening diversity of incoming international students. 

“It is already a topic of conversation on campuses on how to diversity the pool of international students, [to know] what are the systemic forms of discrimination that exist over time and how can US institutions make sure they are reaching a broader diversity of South Asian students,” said international education consultant Rajika Bhandari. 

“On-the-ground understanding is definitely required, because if policies are not shaped by individuals who deeply understand the context, it can fall into a kind of neocolonialist framework or a very Americanised view of another countries’ social issues,” she said. 

Social stratification by caste, prevalent in India for centuries, has variations by region and community, even within India and its neighbouring countries, as well as further afield in South Africa, East Africa and Southeast Asia – particularly in Singapore and Malaysia, the Caribbean and elsewhere with communities from South Asia, often since British colonial times. Its complexity is difficult to explain to others. 

Pariyar agrees universities will need to understand caste better in order to be truly inclusive. 

“Adding caste is not enough, application is very important,” he said. “We need a caste equity action plan”. 

“We need training and a curriculum. We need to train all the diversity and inclusion committee members, all the faculty within the CSU system about the gravity of caste discrimination, what it is and how it exists. There is visible discrimination and invisible discrimination and they need to understand that,” Pariyar said, adding that the university system needs to hire experts to train staff and faculty.  

Some of this expertise is provided by Equality Labs which says it helps institutions develop better tools and know the process of how to identify discriminatory behaviour on the basis of caste.

“Institutions need to create real metrics – enrolment metrics, application metrics – to get a sense of what the baseline of crimes or incidents are, then to be able to bring it down. Data is the key – if we don’t begin with a set of really strong KPIs [key performance indicators], we can’t measure progress,” said Soundararajan.

Source: Caste has become a university diversity issue in the US

Stephens: California’s Ethnic Studies Follies: A proposed curriculum magnifies differences, encourages tribal loyalties and advances ideological group think.

Some exaggeration regarding divisiveness but valid points regarding over-reach and the risks in not using ethnic studies to look at both the commonalities and differences:

The first time California’s Department of Education published a draft of an ethnic studies “model curriculum” for high school students, in 2019, it managed the neat trick of omitting anti-Semitism while committing it.

More than a million Jews live in California. They are also among the state’s leading victims of hate crimes.

Yet in a lengthy draft otherwise rich with references to various forms of bigotry, there was no mention of bigotry toward Jews. There was, however, an endorsement of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement, which essentially calls for the elimination of the Jewish state. There was also an approving mention of a Palestinian singer rapping that Israelis “use the press so they can manufacture” — the old refrain that lying Jews control the media.

The draft outraged many Jews. And they were joined by Armenian, Assyrian, Hellenic, Hindu and Korean civic groups in a statementurging the California Department of Education to “completely redraft the curriculum.” In its original form, they said, the document was “replete with mischaracterizations and omissions of major California ethnoreligious groups.”

Last September, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would mandate ethnic studies as a graduation requirement in California’s high schools, pending further review of the model curriculum. While some maintained that a critical ethnic studies curriculum was a mistake, and not just for Jews, others took the view that, when it came to those revisions, it was better to be at the table than on it. Progressive Jews helped redraft a curriculum that included two sample lessons on the Jewish-American experience, along with testimonials about Jewishness from the likes of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Dianne Feinstein.

A victory? One can still quarrel with the curriculum’s tendentiously racialized view of the American-Jewish experience. But at least the anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist dog whistles have been taken out and the history of anti-Semitism has been put in.

Yet as the Board of Education is set to vote on the new curriculum this month, it is likelier than before to enthrone ethnic studies, an older relative to critical race theory, into the largest public school system in the United States. This is a big deal in America’s ongoing culture wars. And it’s a bad deal for California’s students, at least for those whose school districts decide to make the curriculum their own.

What is “ethnic studies”? Contrary to first impressions, it is not multiculturalism. It is not a way of exploring, much less celebrating, America’s pluralistic society. It is an assault on it. “A multiculturalist framework that views our people through a colonialist lens is what literally led to the need for ethnic studies,” Sharif Zakout of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center told a state Education Department panel last year.

Ethnic studies is less an academic discipline than it is the recruiting arm of a radical ideological movement masquerading as mainstream pedagogy. From the opening pages of the model curriculum, students are expected not just to “challenge racist, bigoted, discriminatory, imperialist/colonial beliefs,” but to “critique empire-building in history” and “connect ourselves to past and contemporary social movements that struggle for social justice.”

That would be fine if it appeared in the pages of, say, The Nation. It would be fine, too, if students were exposed to critical race theory the way they might be exposed to Marxist philosophy or some other ideology — as a subject to be examined, not a lens through which to do the examining. The former is education. The latter is indoctrination. The ethnic studies curriculum conceals the difference.

It also does so in a uniquely lopsided way. “Ethnic studies is for all students,” the curriculum announces. Actually, not so much. Irish-Americans have faced a long history of discrimination in the U.S. and are famously proud of their heritage. But the word “Irish” hardly appears anywhere in the model curriculum, and nowhere in its sample lessons. Russians, Italians, Poles and others rate only the briefest mentions.

Perhaps this is because all of them, like most Jews, have a new identity, known in the jargon of ethnic studies as “conditional whiteness,” which simultaneously erases their past and racializes their present. Leave aside the ignorance this fosters regarding the long history of differences, struggles and achievements by various European ethnic groups in America. It’s also the mirror image of longstanding prejudices regarding “Asians” or “Hispanics” as ethnically undifferentiated masses of mainly identical people.

When the main thing left-wing progressives see about America is its allegedly oppressive systems of ethnicity or color, they aren’t seeing America at all. Nor should they be surprised when right-wing reactionaries adopt a perverse version of their views. To treat “whiteness” — conditional or otherwise — not as an accident of pigmentation but as an ethnicity unto itself is what the David Dukes of the world have always wanted.

It shouldn’t be like this. Public education is supposed to create a sense of common citizenship while cultivating the habits of independent thinking. This is a curriculum that magnifies differences, encourages tribal loyalties and advances ideological groupthink.


To Tackle Racial Disparities In COVID-19, California Enacts New Metric For Reopening

Worth considering in Canadian provinces as well, particularly in for our larger centres:

There are many things still unknown about the coronavirus. But one thing is certain: the disproportionate harm COVID-19 has caused in communities of color.

To address the issue, California has implemented a new health equity requirement on the state’s 35 largest counties — those with a population of more than 106,000. It’s believed to be the first such measure in the U.S.

In order to advance to the next phase of economic reopening, counties like Los Angeles will need to reduce the levels of the virus in their most vulnerable communities — by meeting certain test-positivity goals as well as showing targeted investments in resources such as more increased testing, contact tracing and education.

The goal isn’t simply to reduce the number of cases, but to bring the numbers in a county’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods more in line with the county’s overall level.

“We want to make sure that our focus on COVID has a look at every community, regardless of skin color or wealth, and that we are concerned about equity,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s health secretary, tells All Things Considered. “That means a disproportionate investment in populations and groups that have a disproportionate impact.”

Latinos make up about 40% of the state’s population, but account for 61% of coronavirus cases and nearly 50% of the deaths. The Black community is 6% of the population, but accounts for about 4% of cases and more than 7% of deaths.

Compare that to the white population — which is about 37% of the population, but 17% of cases and just about 30% of deaths.

Here are excerpts from the interview.

On business owners who might chafe at the health equity metric

For a county to be able to move forward with confidence and success, bringing all of their communities along with reduced transmission, flooding the communities that need testing with that, making sure that we have enough disease investigators and supporting isolation, really allow the county as a whole to move forward, even sooner and with greater confidence, because the disparate levels of transmission within a single county can really lead to problems for the entire county, as the level of mixing, while we reopen more of our business sectors, occurs. …

We know that so many of the communities that have the disproportionate impact are, in fact, the essential workers and the people who travel on public transportation and move into all parts of the community. So really, this is not just a focus on the race and ethnic impacts of COVID, but really a strategy to make sure we address transmission in a wise and thoughtful way across our state.

We believe that it certainly gives us a greater path to addressing some of it. In the short run, we focus on creating access to testing. We create better, stronger lines of communication between public health officials and those communities, causing us to hire and bring on more bilingual staff that can relate and connect with the target population. So we believe it both focuses on COVID, but also gives us a pathway to continue to increase our connection and deepened impact with communities that, on so many health measures, have faced a disproportionate impact of disease and other bad outcomes.

Source: To Tackle Racial Disparities In COVID-19, California Enacts New Metric For Reopening

California Gov. Signs Law Requiring Corporations to Have Board Members From Racial or Sexual Minority Groups


Hundreds of California-based corporations must have directors from racial or sexual minorities on their boards under a first-in-the-nation bill signed Wednesday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The diversity legislation is similar to a 2018 measure that required boardrooms to have at least one female director by 2019. Like that measure, it could face court challenges from conservative groups who view it as a discriminatory quota.

Supporters evoked both the coronavirus pandemic that is disproportionately affecting minorities and weeks of unrest and calls for inclusion that followed the slaying of George Floyd in May in the custody of Minneapolis police.

After Floyd’s death, many corporations issued statements of support for diversity, but many haven’t followed through, said Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), who co-authored the bill.

“The new law represents a big step forward for racial equity,” Holden said. “While some corporations were already leading the way to combat implicit bias, now, all of California’s corporate boards will better reflect the diversity of our state. This is a win-win as ethnically diverse boards have shown to outperform those that lack diversity.”

By the end of 2021, the more than 660 public corporations with California headquarters must have at least one board director from an “underrepresented community,” according to the measure.

Those who qualify would self-identify as Black, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian or Alaska Native, or as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

The measure requires at least two such directors by the end of 2022 on boards with four to nine directors. Three directors are required for boards with nine or more directors. Firms that don’t comply would face fines of $100,00 for first violations and $300,000 for repeated violations.

At an online signing ceremony, Newsom said it was important for minorities to have a voice on the boards of powerful corporations.

“When we talk about racial justice, we talk about empowerment, we talk about power, and we need to talk about seats at the table,” Newsom said.

The legislation was part of a package of racial justice measures signed by Newsom before a midnight deadline. Others bar the use of peremptory challenges to remove potential jurors based on racial, religious or gender identity; allow judges to alter sentences that are believed to involve racial or ethnic discrimination; and set up a state task force to study the idea of reparations to African Americans for slavery.

The text of the corporate diversity bill cited the Latino Corporate Directors Association, which said 233 of 662 publicly traded companies headquartered in California had all-white boards as of this year. Nearly 90% didn’t have any Latino directors, although Latinos make up 39% of the state’s population. Only 16% had an African American board member.

The only official opponent in a legislative analysis was former California commissioner of corporations Keith Bishop. He objected that that bill, coupled with the existing diversity law, would make it more desirable for corporations to pick women who also are members of the underrepresented communities to simultaneously meet both sets of quotas, to the detriment of men or women who do not meet the qualifications in the new bill.

Source: California Gov. Signs Law Requiring Corporations to Have Board Members From Racial or Sexual Minority Groups

Californians to vote on racial, gender preference programs

Will be interesting to see how the demographic shifts affect the vote:

A California with vastly different political preferences and demographics is voting on whether to allow affirmative action in public hiring, contracting and college admissions — nearly a quarter century after voters outlawed programs that give preference based on race and gender.

If approved, Proposition 16 would repeal a 1996 initiative that made it unlawful for California’s state and local governments to discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to people based on race, ethnicity, national origin or sex. Then-Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican, championed the measure as part of his conservative bid for the presidency.

The California of 2020 is less Republican and more diverse than it was 24 years ago, with Latinos making up 39% of the population in a state where no group holds a majority.

Still, the repeal might not have made the ballot if not for the Memorial Day police killing of George Floyd while handcuffed by police in Minneapolis. Voters’ decision will test support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a San Diego Democrat and chairwoman of the California Legislative Black Caucus, is the lead author of the legislation that put the question to voters, which required two-thirds support in both houses of the state Legislature.

“I think the death of George Floyd made racism very real for people; they could see it. And now what I was asking them to do was to act on it, stop telling me how horrible it is, stop telling me that you really didn’t know that, stop telling me that this is such a revelation for you,” Weber said.

She added: “Now the question becomes, what are you going to do about it?”

Early voting begins Monday for the Nov. 3 election.

The U.S. Supreme Court has long outlawed racial quotas, but it has ruled that universities may use tailored programs to promote diversity.

Last year, a federal judge in Boston rejected claims that Harvard’s admissions policies discriminated against Asian American applicants to keep their numbers artificially low. The plaintiff, the Students for Fair Admissions group, is appealing.

Supporters of Proposition 16 include U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic nominee for U.S. , Black Lives Matter movement co-founders, professional sports teams and politically liberal groups of all types. They argue that some programs are needed to help level a systemically racist playing field. The campaign has raised $14 million, far more than the $1 million raised by opponents.

Opponents include Ward Connerly, an African American businessman and former University of California regent who pushed for the 1996 ban.

They say government should never discriminate by race or gender, and the only way to stop discrimination is to end it. Joining Connerly are more recent Chinese immigrants who say the United States shouldn’t play based on skin .

In 2014, activists scuttled an attempt to restore racial preferences in higher education and successfully voted out some Asian American legislators they called traitors to their race.

Assemblyman Evan Low, who is Chinese American, voted in June to put the issue before voters despite emails and phone calls running 37-to-1 against it. He rebuked proponents for failing to reach out to him and the broader Asian American community at a time when all minorities have reason to feel under attack.

“Yes, we have a moral compass, but we must have conversations, difficult ones, even with those communities in opposition, because we’re all in this together, right?” said Low, a Silicon Valley Democrat, in June.

Supporters say minority- and women-owned businesses have missed out on public contracting dollars. Because of the ban, culturally specific programs aimed at improving high school graduation rates for African American boys and Latinas were discontinued, deepening divides.

And while some Asian Americans are admitted to elite universities in large numbers, affirmative action proponents say they too hit a “bamboo ceiling” that prevents them from landing executive-level positions.

On the other side, Tom Campbell, a former dean of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, said the college recruited minority applicants through strong outreach to high school students in nearby Oakland.

The legacy of slavery and Jim Crow segregation laws exists, he said, but, “I just will not engage in this method of correcting that, because it is wrong to the individual kept out because of her or his race.”

Kali Fontanilla teaches English as a second language in Salinas, California and before that, tutored African American students. She identifies as Black and biracial, and said students of don’t need their standards lowered.

“That’s insulting to me to say that there’s certain groups that because of the of your skin you’re not meeting the standard, you can’t meet the standard (so) we’re going to help you, we’re going to give you this crutch to get in,” she said.

Higher education has long been a flash point in the debate and both sides point to admissions statistics at the University of California and its nine undergraduate campuses to make their case.

Opponents of affirmative action say Latinos have made significant progress without preferential treatment, making up 25% of undergraduates last year, double their share two decades ago.

Supporters of affirmative action note that Latinos make up more than half of California’s high school seniors, with a graduation rate above 80 .

The population of California has also changed dramatically since 1996. The numbers of Latino and Asian American residents — and voters — have grown, although likely voters are still disproportionately white. Democrats still make up nearly half of registered voters, but the percentage of Republicans in the state has dropped from 36% to 24%.

Dan Schnur, who teaches political communications at UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California, noted that young white Californians also are much more liberal on issues of immigration, same-sex marriage and equity, having “grown up in much more diverse and multicultural environments than their parents and grandparents.”

But recent polls by the Public Policy Institute of California and the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley showed the measure trailing. Last year, voters in Washington narrowly upheld that state’s ban.

Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal and Education Fund, said claims that a quarter of college students are Latino are “not something to be celebrated,” given that more than half of all public school students are Latino.

“That’s a disparity that needs to be aggressively addressed, and Proposition 16 would allow us to do that,” he said.

Source: Californians to vote on racial, gender preference programs

‘Herstory’ is out as California revamps K-12 ethnic studies course guide

Hard to update curricula for ethnic studies and develop consensus and balance (as in the case of citizenship guides):

State officials unveiled their latest try at an ethnic studies curriculum for K-12 students Friday, and it’s clear their hope is that this time fewer people will be offended.

To appease critics of academic jargon, the new draft ditches terms such as “herstory” for the more traditional “history.” To better honor diversity, teachers are encouraged to let the ethnic composition of the class influence study topics.

Still, the new version retains a focus on the four groups long associated with ethnic studies: African Americans, Asian Americans, Chicanos/Latinos and Native American and Indigenous peoples. That aspect could reassure leaders in the field of ethnic studies, who shaped the first version but had less influence over the revision.

All told, the latest draft represents an attempt at compromise among strong, difficult-to-resolve passions. Ethnic studies is innately and even intentionally political in challenging established norms. All the same, it embodies widely supported goals that include empowering students of color, nurturing empathy among white students and developing critical thinking and historical perspective among all.

The push for ethnic studies in California has recently gained momentum, buoyed by Black Lives Matter protests that followed the May killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Ethnic studies, supporters say, has the potential to dismantle systemic and unconscious racism through the education of the citizens of tomorrow.

“Our schools have not always been a place where students can gain a full understanding of the contributions of people of color and the many ways throughout history — and present day — that our country has exploited, marginalized, and oppressed them,” state Supt. of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said in a statement Friday. “At a time when people across the nation are calling for a fairer, more just society, we must empower and equip students and educators to have these courageous conversations in the classroom.”

Expect the reviews — positive and negative — to trickle in for weeks.

The debate is not merely for academics. This model curriculum is expected to guide teaching in K-12 public schools across California. The state Board of Education is scheduled to approve a final version by the end of March. And pending legislation would make ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement.

The latest version attempts to tone down references that some regarded as overly political or ideologically one-sided. There had been particular criticism of elements seen as anti-Semitic or anti-Israel, although there were Jews on both sides of the debate.

Among those with reservations about the original curriculum were members of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, which had contended that the guide intentionally excluded Jews. The lawmakers faulted the first version for failing to explain anti-Semitism while providing an overly positive representation of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

“There were 14 forms of bigotry and racism in the glossary,” said Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino), who called the exclusion of anti-Semitism glaring, obvious and offensive.

Anti-Semitism is now noted more clearly in the curriculum as a form of bigotry.

Critics are not entirely satisfied.

The draft has improved, but not enough, said Sarah Levin, executive director of Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa.

“These supplemental materials ignore the stories of all our coalition members — who together represent an estimated 60% of Californians who hail from the Middle East and North Africa — while portraying the Arab American experience as a monolith to represent the region,” she said.

Another critic, Williamson Evers, also felt the improvement was inadequate.

“The proposed model curriculum is still full of left-wing ideological propaganda and indoctrination,” said Evers, a senior fellow at the Independent Institute, an Oakland think tank. “It still force feeds our children the socialist dogma that capitalism is oppression. It’s almost all Berkeley and little Bakersfield.”

The new draft arrived nearly a year after the California Department of Education shelved the original.

Officials arrived at the latest iteration after reviewing thousands of public comments, convening experts and conducting teacher focus groups.

At its core, supporters say, ethnic studies teaches students how to think critically about the world around them, “tell their own stories,” develop “a deep appreciation for cultural diversity and inclusion” and engage “socially and politically” to eradicate bigotry, hate and racism, according to the earlier draft of the model curriculum.

The model curriculum is meant to serve as a guideline rather than a mandate for schools that choose to offer ethnic studies classes. In California, as nationwide, these courses are increasing in number, with grade-school enrollment nearly doubling from 8,678 in 2013-14 to 17,354 in 2016-17, according to the state Department of Education.

There appears to be broad legislative support for making ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement. Some school systems already have taken that step.

Supporters of the original curriculum include 25,000 people who have signed a “Defend Ethnic Studies” petition, ethnic studies faculty from the California State University and University of California, and many Jewish groups.

R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, a Los Angeles teacher and co-chair of the advisory committee that created the original draft curriculum, said ethnic studies courses can be responsive to all students in a class and integrate other ethnic groups “without de-centering communities of color.”

Cuauhtin said ethnic studies terminology should remain in the curriculum. “Students of color need to also be respected as young intellectuals and given access to academic concepts and disciplinary language,” he said. “Every academic field has its own language, and yes, so does ethnic studies — let’s uplift that and ensure it’s accessible, not erase it.”

“Herstory,” for example, is a term used to describe history written from a feminist or women’s perspective. The term is also deployed when referring to counter-narratives within history.

Assemblyman Jose Medina, the author of the bill that would mandate ethnic studies, is optimistic about how the final product will turn out.

“The model curriculum is still a draft and in the early stages of the input process,” said Medina (D-Riverside). “I trust this process and believe we will end up with a strong ethnic studies framework that will provide a solid structure for educators to build off as they bring ethnic studies to life in their classrooms.”

In a related development, last month the Cal State Board of Trustees revised its general education curriculum for the first time in 40 years to create an ethnic studies and social justice requirement of all undergraduate students.

Ethnic studies faculty and some trustees criticized the requirement as being too broad and diluting the mission of ethnic studies, advocating instead for a narrower requirement proposed in a bill that is currently making its way to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.

Source: ‘Herstory’ is out as California revamps K-12 ethnic studies course guide

Most of the 23 million immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 election live in just five states

Useful perspective and comparisons:

About one-in-ten people eligible to vote in this year’s U.S. presidential election are immigrants. And most (61%) of these 23 million naturalized citizens live in just five states.

California has more immigrant eligible voters (5.5 million) than any other state, more than New York (2.5 million) and Florida (2.5 million) combined. Texas and New Jersey round out the top five, with 1.8 million and 1.2 million immigrant eligible voters, respectively.

Here is a closer look at immigrant eligible voters in these five states.

How we did this

1Asians make up 43% of immigrant eligible voters in California, the highest of any racial or ethnic group.Nationally, Latinos make up a higher share of immigrant eligible voters than Asians (34% vs. 31%), but the reverse is true in the Golden State, where many Latino immigrants are ineligible to vote because they do not hold U.S. citizenship.

California’s immigrant eligible voters come from many countries. But three origin countries account for 46% of the total: Mexico (1.5 million immigrant eligible voters), the Philippines (604,000 voters) and Vietnam (430,000 voters).

The vast majority of California’s immigrant eligible voters (75%) have lived in the United States for more than 20 years. The share is highest (82%) among California’s Latino immigrant voters. Smaller majorities of Asian (71%), white (71%) and black (59%) immigrant eligible voters in California have lived in the country for at least two decades. English proficiency varies widely among the state’s immigrant eligible voters. For example, 86% of black immigrant eligible voters in California are English proficient, a substantially higher share than among all the state’s immigrant eligible voters (55%).

2New York stands out for the racial and ethnic diversity of its immigrant eligible voters. Asians (26%), Latinos (25%) and whites (25%) make up similar shares of the state’s immigrant eligible voters, while black immigrants (21%) are a slightly lower share.

When it comes to speaking English, black immigrant eligible voters in New York are substantially more likely to be English proficient (89%) than white (66%), Asian (52%) and Latino (47%) immigrant voters.

In New York, no single birth country accounts for a large share of the state’s immigrant eligible voters; about a quarter of foreign-born voters come from the state’s three largest birth countries. Immigrants from the Dominican Republic are the largest single group, with 264,000 eligible voters, followed by China (207,000) and Jamaica (143,000).

3Latinos make up 54% of Florida’s immigrant eligible voters, far higher than the shares of white, black and Asian immigrant voters in the state (17%, 16% and 10% respectively).

Florida’s immigrant voters have varying levels of English proficiency. For example, around half (51%) of Latino immigrant eligible voters are proficient in English, a far lower share than among white (82%) or black (81%) immigrant voters.

With 606,000 voters, Cuban immigrants are the largest group in Florida’s foreign-born electorate. Colombian immigrants, at 190,000, and Haitian immigrants, at 187,000, are the second- and third-largest groups.

4Texas rivals Florida in its share of Hispanic immigrant voters. Roughly half (52%) of all immigrant eligible voters in Texas are Hispanic, a share that trails only Florida (54%) among the top states. Asian immigrants are the second-largest group in Texas at 29%.

Around seven-in-ten immigrant voters in Texas (68%) have lived in the U.S. for more than two decades, similar to the share among all U.S. immigrant voters (68%). However, the share of long-term residents is notably lower among black immigrant voters in Texas (40%).

A high share of black and white immigrant voters in Texas are English proficient (88% and 85%, respectively). Lower shares of Asian (64%) and Hispanic (47%) immigrant voters are proficient. This is similar to the pattern nationally.

By country of birth, Mexican immigrants alone account for 40% of all immigrant voters in Texas, or 736,000 people. The second-largest group, with 130,000 voters, are immigrants from Vietnam, while Indian immigrants, with 115,000 voters, make up the third-largest group in the state.

New Jersey has the highest share of Asian immigrant eligible voters with a bachelor’s degree or higher5New Jersey has a high share of Asian immigrant voters with a college degree. About two-thirds of Asian immigrant voters in New Jersey (66%) have a bachelor’s degree or higher. That’s substantially higher than the share among other immigrant voter groups in the state and the share among immigrant voters in the U.S. overall (36%), including those who are Asian.

Among New Jersey’s 1.2 million immigrant eligible voters, 32% are Latino, 30% are Asian, 25% are white and 11% are black.

Meanwhile, the top birth countries for immigrant eligible voters in New Jersey are India (122,000 voters), the Dominican Republic (103,000) and the Philippines (63,000).

See the table below (or open it as a PDF) for detailed characteristics of immigrant eligible voters in California, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey and nationally.

Demographics of naturalized citizen eligible voters in select states

Source: Most of the 23 million immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 election live in just five states

Two States. Eight Textbooks. Two American Stories.

Would be interesting to see a Quebec and Ontario comparison, and an Alberta and Ontario one, although the small size of the Canadian market likely means less variation in texts for English Canada:

The textbooks cover the same sweeping story, from the brutality of slavery to the struggle for civil rights. The self-evident truths of the founding documents to the waves of immigration that reshaped the nation.

The books have the same publisher. They credit the same authors. But they are customized for students in different states, and their contents sometimes diverge in ways that reflect the nation’s deepest partisan divides.

Hundreds of differences — some subtle, others extensive — emerged in a New York Times analysis of eight commonly used American history textbooks in California and Texas, two of the nation’s largest markets.

In a country that cannot come to a consensus on fundamental questions — how restricted capitalism should be, whether immigrants are a burden or a boon, to what extent the legacy of slavery continues to shape American life — textbook publishers are caught in the middle. On these questions and others, classroom materials are not only shaded by politics, but are also helping to shape a generation of future voters.

Conservatives have fought for schools to promote patriotism, highlight the influence of Christianity and celebrate the founding fathers. In a September speech, President Trump warned against a “radical left” that wants to “erase American history, crush religious liberty, indoctrinate our students with left-wing ideology.”

The left has pushed for students to encounter history more from the ground up than from the top down, with a focus on the experiences of marginalized groups such as enslaved people, women and Native Americans.

The books The Times analyzed were published in 2016 or later and have been widely adopted for eighth and 11th graders, though publishers declined to share sales figures. Each text has editions for Texas and California, among other states, customized to satisfy policymakers with different priorities.

“At the end of the day, it’s a political process,” said Jesús F. de la Teja, an emeritus professor of history at Texas State University who has worked for the state of Texas and for publishers in reviewing standards and textbooks.

The differences between state editions can be traced back to several sources: state social studies standards; state laws; and feedback from panels of appointees that huddle, in Sacramento and Austin hotel conference rooms, to review drafts.

Requests from textbook review panels, submitted in painstaking detail to publishers, show the sometimes granular ways that ideology can influence the writing of history.

A California panel asked the publisher McGraw-Hill to avoid the use of the word “massacre” when describing 19th-century Native American attacks on white people. A Texas panel asked Pearson to point out the number of clergy who signed the Declaration of Independence, and to state that the nation’s founders were inspired by the Protestant Great Awakening.

All the members of the California panel were educators selected by the State Board of Education, whose members were appointed by former Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat. The Texas panel, appointed by the Republican-dominated State Board of Education, was made up of educators, parents, business representatives and a Christian pastor and politician.

McGraw-Hill, the publisher whose annotated Bill of Rights appears differently in the two states, said it had created the additional wording on the Second Amendment and gun control for the California textbook. A national version of the pages is similar to the Texas edition, which does not call attention to gun rights, the company said in a written statement.

Pearson, the publisher whose Texas textbook raises questions about the quality of Harlem Renaissance literature, said such language “adds more depth and nuance.”

Critical language about nonwhite cultural movements also appears in a Texas book from McGraw-Hill. It is partly a result of debates, in 2010, between conservative and liberal members of the Texas Board of Education over whether state standards should mention cultural movements like hip-hop and country music. Their compromise was to ask teachers and textbook publishers to address “both the positive and negative impacts” of artistic movements.

Texas struck that requirement in 2018, but its most recent textbooks, published in 2016, will reflect it for years to come.

Publishers are eager to please state policymakers of both parties, during a challenging time for the business. Schools are transitioning to digital materials. And with the ease of internet research, many teachers say they prefer to curate their own primary-source materials online.

How Textbooks are Produced
1Authors, often academics, write a national version of each text.
2Publishers customize the books for states and large districts to meet local standards, often without input from the original authors.
3State or district textbook reviewers go over each book and ask publishers for further changes.
4Publishers revise their books and sell them to districts and schools.

Still, recent textbooks have come a long way from what was published in past decades. Both Texas and California volumes deal more bluntly with the cruelty of the slave trade, eschewing several myths that were common in textbooks for generations: that some slave owners treated enslaved people kindly and that African-Americans were better off enslaved than free. The books also devote more space to the women’s movement and balance the narrative of European immigration with stories of Latino and Asian immigrants.

“American history is not anymore the story of great white men,” said Albert S. Broussard, a history professor at Texas A&M University and an author of both the Texas and California editions of McGraw-Hill’s textbooks.

Here is how the politics of American history play out in California and Texas textbooks, on subjects like race, immigration, gender, sexuality and the economy.

White resistance to black progress is covered differently in the two states.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History & Geography: Continuity and Change,” California, P. 505

California notes the suburban dream of the 1950s was inaccessible to many African-Americans.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History Since 1877,” Texas, P. 436

Texas does not.

California and Texas textbooks sometimes offer different explanations for white backlash to black advancement after the Civil War, from Reconstruction to housing discrimination in the 20th century.

Southern whites resisted Reconstruction, according to a McGraw-Hill textbook, because they “did not want African-Americans to have more rights.” But the Texas edition offers an additional reason: Reforms cost money, and that meant higher taxes.

Whole paragraphs on redlining and restrictive deeds appear only in the California editions of textbooks, partly as a result of different state standards. Texas’ social studies guidelines do not mention housing discrimination at all.


Texas says that white Southerners opposed Reconstruction because of tax increases as well as racial resentment. California instead includes primary-source quotations from black historical figures about white resistance to civil rights.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History & Geography: Growth & Conflict,” California, P. 586; McGraw-Hill, “United States History to 1877,” Texas, P. 555

Both states say that breaches of “racial etiquette” led to lynchings after Reconstruction. But only California, whose edition was written more recently, makes clear that the perpetrators of lynchings also hoped to discourage black political and economic power.

HMH, “American History: Reconstruction to the Present,” California, P. 245; HMH, “The Americans: United States History Since 1877,” Texas, P. 288

Nevertheless, Kerry Green, a high school social studies teacher in Sunnyvale, Tex., a small town east of Dallas, said she discussed redlining with her 11th graders, adding it as a counterpoint to lessons about postwar prosperity — the optimistic story of consumerism, television and the Baby Boom that is emphasized by her state’s standards.

Ms. Green said she preferred to assign primary sources that “encourage students to explore history on their own.” But she said she would welcome textbooks that contain more historical documents and a greater diversity of voices and themes from the past.

“The textbook companies are not gearing their textbooks toward teachers; they’re gearing their textbooks toward states,” she said.

On gender and sexuality, California textbooks include history that is not in Texas editions.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History & Geography: Growth & Conflict,” California, P. 624

California states that the federal government failed to recognize nonbinary gender identities and female leaders in its early relations with Native Americans.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History Since 1877,” Texas, P. 111

Texas does not mention gender roles or gender identity in its discussion of efforts to “Americanize” Native Americans.

In Texas textbooks, mentions of L.G.B.T.Q. issues tend to be restricted to coverage of events in recent decades, such as the Stonewall uprising, the AIDS crisis and debates over marriage rights.

But for recent California editions, publishers wrote thousands of words of new text in response to the FAIR Education Act, a law signed by Governor Brown in 2011. It requires schools to teach the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and disabled Americans.

Peppered throughout California books are passages on topics like same-sex families under slavery and early sex reassignment surgery in the 1950s — text that does not appear in Texas versions.


California states that enslaved women faced sexual violence from owners and overseers.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History & Geography: Growth & Conflict,” California, P. 449; McGraw-Hill, “United States History to 1877,” Texas, P. 443

California mentions the “lavender scare” that targeted thousands of gay men and lesbians.

Pearson, “United States History: The Twentieth Century,” California, P. 486; Pearson, “United States History: 1877 to Present,” Texas, P. 456.

California states that Alfred Kinsey’s research and early sex reassignment surgeries challenged “the postwar ideal” on gender.

Pearson, “United States History: The Twentieth Century,” California, P. 498; Pearson, “United States History: 1877 to Present,” Texas, P. 470.

Both states focus on women’s fight against discrimination in the workplace. Only California says birth control played a role, by “allowing women to exert greater control over their sexuality and family planning.”

McGraw-Hill, “United States History & Geography: Continuity and Change,” California, P. 627; McGraw-Hill, “United States History Since 1877,” Texas, P. 525.

Stephanie Kugler, an eighth-grade history teacher in West Sacramento, Calif., said she had expanded an idea mentioned briefly in her classroom’s textbook, about women who dressed as men to fight in the Civil War and continued to live as men, into an entire lesson on troops who today would be considered transgender. The students read accounts of those soldiers’ lives alongside more traditional sources, such as letters written by a black Union soldier and a Confederate soldier.

Her goal, Ms. Kugler said, was to “make it really authentic” to talk about diversity in the context of each historical period.

While both states devote many pages to the women’s movement, Texas books, in general, avoid discussions of sex or sexuality.

Immigration and nativism are major themes in American history textbooks.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History & Geography: Continuity and Change,” California, P. 736

California includes an excerpt from a novel about a Dominican-American family.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History Since 1877,” Texas, P. 609

In the same place, Texas highlights the voice of a Border Patrol agent.

Michael Teague, a Border Patrol agent, is featured in the Texas edition of McGraw-Hill’s 11th grade textbook. He discusses his concerns about drug trafficking and says, “if you open the border wide up, you’re going to invite political and social upheaval.”

Mr. Teague’s story is featured at the end of a chapter on recent immigration, alongside accounts from a Vietnamese immigrant and a second-generation Mexican-American.

That section in the California edition of the same book is devoted to a long excerpt from the novel “How the García Girls Lost Their Accents,” by Julia Alvarez. It deals with intergenerational tensions in a Dominican-American family.

In a written statement, McGraw-Hill said the full-page Border Patrol narrative was not included in the California edition because it would not fit beside the literary excerpt. And at the time the Texas edition was produced, six years ago, state standards called for students to analyze both “legal and illegal immigration to the United States.”

In contrast, California textbooks are more likely to note when a historical figure was an immigrant. And they include more detail on the role immigrants such as Japanese and Filipino farmworkers played in labor movements.

California is one of many states to ask teachers and textbooks in recent years to cover the contributions of specific immigrant groups, including Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, European-Americans and Mexican-Americans.


Only California states that Levi Strauss was a German Jewish immigrant.

McGraw-Hill, “United States History & Geography: Growth & Conflict,” California, P. 416; McGraw-Hill, “United States History Since 1877,” Texas, P. 417

California tells the story of Wong Kim Ark, whose 1898 Supreme Court case established birthright citizenship for the children of immigrants; Texas’s edition, which is older, does not mention this case, but does cover the Chinese Exclusion Act.

HMH, “American History: Reconstruction to the Present,” California, P. 247; HMH, “The Americans: United States History Since 1877,” Texas, P. 289

These additions are part of the reason California books are almost always longer than their Texas counterparts.

California’s Board of Education adopted an expansive 842-page social studies framework in 2016. Two years later, Texas’ school board streamlined its social studies standards, which are now laid out in 78 tightly compressed pages.

Critics of California’s approach say that making state standards and textbooks longer and more inclusive can be overwhelming to teachers trying to move quickly through hundreds of years of material.

Both states emphasize the role of big businessfrom the Gilded Age to the present.

HMH, “American History: Reconstruction to the Present,” California, P. 160

California is critical of wealth inequality and the impact of companies like Standard Oil on the environment.

HMH, “The Americans: United States History Since 1877,” Texas, P. 235

Texas is more likely to celebrate free enterprise and entrepreneurs like Andrew Carnegie.

Texas policymakers feel strongly about giving students a positive view of the American economy; since 1995, state law has required that high school economics courses offer an “emphasis on the free enterprise system and its benefits.” That emphasis seems to have made its way into the history curriculum as well.

California’s curriculum materials, by contrast, sometimes read like a brief from a Bernie Sanders rally. “The yawning gap between the haves and have-nots and what is to be done about it is one of the great questions of this time,” says the state’s 2016 social studies framework.

As a result, California textbooks are more likely to celebrate unionism, critique the concentration of wealth and focus on how industry pollutes the environment.


California refers to “the income gap” and explains that “changes in tax structures and safety-net programs” and “higher costs for education, child care, and housing” played a role. Both state editions discuss economic inequality in reference to the Occupy Wall Street movement and the decline of labor unions.

Pearson, “United States History: The Twentieth Century,” California, P. 728; Pearson, “United States History: 1877 to Present,” Texas, P. 687.

The older Texas edition highlights additional Republican critiques of President Barack Obama’s environmental policies, while the California book discusses the threat of rising sea levels.

Pearson, “United States History: The Twentieth Century,” California, P. 749; Pearson, “United States History: 1877 to Present,” Texas, P. 709.

Both the California and Texas 11th-grade textbooks from Pearson state, “The main argument against environmental legislation is that it hurts the economy and the nation’s industries.”

The Texas edition goes further to highlight criticism of federal efforts to subsidize the green energy industry: “Republicans accuse the government of wasting taxpayers’ money, for example by supporting the failed solar manufacturer Solyndra.” The Solyndra controversy was a fixation for conservatives in 2011, when the company went bankrupt after accepting half a billion dollars in federally guaranteed loans.

The Texas book also states that American action on global warming may not make a difference if China, India, Russia and Brazil do not also act.

The California edition does not mention Solyndra or the other nations. However, it does include a section on the threat to American states and cities from rising sea levels, noting that the impact on tourism in Florida could hurt that state’s economy, and that transportation networks and buildings could be threatened.

Pearson said in a written statement that the differences between the books could be attributed mostly to the fact that the California book was published several years later, and that concerns over coastal flooding have become “more heightened in recent years.”

Trending in Politics Is California’s ethnic studies plan too politically correct even for California?

Would appear so on substantive grounds, by any objective manner:

As Americans grapple with shifts in culture and demographics, majority-minority California is developing a high school curriculum in ethnic studies, one of the first nationally. Not long ago — while managing his extracurriculars and winnowing his college choices — Eli Safaie-Kia, 17, found time to discover a draft of it.

Its contents were, in some ways, standard-issue: readings and projects aimed at fostering tolerance, offering non-traditional perspectives and helping a massive, multicultural populace better understand one another. But in other ways, the draft was confusing even to a Generation Z kid from a blue-state. For one, it presented Israel in a way that went heavy on Palestinian oppression and scarcely mentioned the Holocaust.

So unsettled was the Israeli-American teen by the California Department of Education’s proposed model curriculum, required by a 2016 law, that the Los Angeles high school senior fired off a comment to the department.  “I kinda came across the document,” he said, “and once I began reading through it, it was a little bit disturbing to see how one-sided some parts of the ethnic studies proposal was.”

Now, as the comment period for the draft approaches its Aug. 15 deadline, hundreds of complaints, suggestions and op-eds have posted, from conservatives who don’t like its depiction of capitalism as a “form of power and oppression,” to parents stumped by its academic jargon to no small number of Californians who, like Safaie-Kia, wonder why it says so little about anti-Semitism. A bill winding its way toward the governor’s desk (Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed an earlier version) would make ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement.

The model curriculum is intended to serve as a guide for high schools in a state in which non-Hispanic whites represent only 42% of the population, and its proponents say it’s the logical next step for a state that has already adapted, more than most, to an increasingly diverse culture.

But as anti-immigrant rhetoric, violent white nationalism and rising hate crime roil the nation, the furor around it, even here, underscores how far even California has to go.

For example, some commenters have complained that the curriculum’s language, examples and tone are so left-leaning that they won’t work effectively in more conservative parts of California. “After reading this latest school curriculum twist to the left, it makes the decision much easier to go with charter schools and private education,” one critic commented this month.

Supporters of the draft say it’s time for students to learn about the U.S. through a lens often ignored by those in power.

“Sometimes people want to approach ethnic studies as just a superficial diversity class and that’s it,” said R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, a member of the advisory committeethat worked on the draft. “Ethnic studies is an academic field of over 50 years that has its own frameworks, its own academic language, its own understandings of how it approaches subjects and our world.”

He pointed to criticism of the draft that questions the curriculum’s repetition of academic jargon — words like misogynoir, cisheteropatriarchy and hxrstory.

“It seems to be fine for other academic disciplines to have their own academic language,” he said. “AP Chemistry for example has some very complex academic terms, difficult to pronounce, but it’s expected because it’s AP Chemistry.”

Colloquial language, Cuauhtin said, doesn’t always sufficiently express the nuances of race, ethnicity and society, and academic terminology can bridge that gap.

Also controversial, including among state lawmakers, is what the draft appears to have left out. The California Legislative Jewish Caucus submitted a letter to the department expressing its concerns:

“While the [model curriculum] specifies the importance of studying hate crimes, white supremacy, bias, prejudice and discrimination, and specifically discusses bias against other communities, it omits any meaningful discussion of antisemitism,” wrote the caucus.

Democratic Assemblyman Jose Medina of Riverside, the author of the bill making ethnic studies a graduation requirement, also signed the letter and is a member of the Jewish caucus. Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, a Democrat from the San Fernando Valley and vice chair of the caucus, said he supports teaching ethnic studies in schools, but found the draft offensive.


“Our caucus meetings tend to be relatively low-key but really across the board people were really really upset, really disturbed by the model curriculum and by the way it treats the Jewish community,” he said. “It really reflects an anti-Jewish bias. It’s pretty outrageous that it omits anti-Semitism.”

The draft’s glossary lists other forms of bigotry like islamophobia and xenophobia. “It’s really hard to understand how that could possibly happen given everything that’s going on in the world given the statistics about the dramatic increase in anti-Semitic violence,” Gabriel said.

Earlier this year a report released by the Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center found that anti-Semitic violence has increased around the world. In April, a gunman opened fire in the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego. One woman was killed and three others were injured.

Critics also say the draft takes a one-sided approach to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement which calls for countries to sever ties with Israel in solidarity with the Palestinians.

The draft’s glossary defines BDS as a “global social movement that currently aims to establish freedom for Palestinians living under apartheid conditions.” Gabriel, the Democratic assemblyman, called the definition  “one-sided propaganda” and said the draft appeared to bend over backwards to include BDS.

“If you’re going to get into issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — I don’t know why that would be something you’d do in an American Ethnic Studies course — then do it in a way … that’s inclusive and presents perspectives that young people could do critical thinking about these issues,” said Gabriel, adding that he understands the draft will go through multiple revisions. But he said the caucus was also concerned with the draft’s inclusion of a song stating that Israelis “use the press so they can manufacture,” perpetuating an anti-Semitic trope.

The portrayal of Israel was what prompted Safaie-Kia, the Los Angeles teenager, to share a public comment.

“Being a proud Californian and Israeli-American, I would never want to feel hated or discriminated against at my public school, and the inclusion of anti-Israel bias in curriculum would threaten my safety as a minority student,” he wrote.

Stephanie Gregson, the Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction said the draft currently posted will look very different after review by the Instructional Quality Commission in September. The department is recommending edits and the commission will consider those edits at the meeting.

She said while public comment is posted as open until August 15, people can send comments to anytime throughout the process, which will continue until January or March of next year. She added that the department is aware of concerns.

Cuauhtin, a committee member who helped create the draft, said the draft is a work in progress, and he agrees that it should say more about anti-Semitism as a form of oppression.

“Given our time constraints, the limited parameters we were given to work with and the public comments we received at the time, I’m proud of our work,” he said in an interview with CalMatters. “If we were still meeting today with the public comments that have been received since, I’m confident there would be some changes made.”

Incoming 12th-grader Safaie-Kia said he has confidence in California to come up with a lesson plan for the diverse demographics that are spreading to the rest of the country. The U.S. Census has determined that, by 2060, America will, like California, be majority-minority.

“As a state I think that we really excel in trying to promote a sense of large community and we are a humongous state and it is difficult,” he said.

“But I think pieces like this curriculum, if done correctly, can really help make such a big state feel like a big community instead of such a place where people aren’t friends with their neighbors or people aren’t connected to someone who may live 300 miles away from them.”

Source: Trending in Politics Is California’s ethnic studies plan too politically correct even for California?