As you know, California has been on a multi-year, ideologically driven trajectory to institute ethnic studies, first as a mandatory college course for California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC), and then as a high school graduation requirement. Californians for Equal Rights Foundation (CFER) has worked with our partner groups and local supporters to raise public awareness on harmful ramifications of teaching ethnic studies through a critical theory perspective. Our victorious lawsuit has prompted the State Department of Education to delete two religious chants from the state-approved Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC).
But we are facing a new set of challenges now, in which bad-faith actors seek to introduce a more radical version of ethnic studies at the local level, called Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (LESMC). Even though the LESMC resembles closely the state rejected first draft of ESMC, the entire education establishment has thrown its heavy weight behind this divisive curriculum which is infested with tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT). These three inter-locking developments are particularly troubling:
1. A new proposal by the UC Academic Senate for the system to add UC-approved ethnic studies to its A-G undergraduate admissions requirements. The UC guidelines for ethnic studies are rooted in CRT (“recognize and interrogate power and oppression,” “analyze and assess…white supremacy… anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism”). At the same time, UC’s A-G Ethnic Studies Faculty Workgroup is staffed with CRT scholars and LESMC proponents.
2. The approval of an $82,000 contract by the Castro Valley Unified School Board to contract with the LESMC Institute for ethnic studies professional training and curriculum development. Before then, a number of local school district including Hayward Unified School District, Santa Barbara Unified School District, Salinas Union High School District, and San Diego Unified School District had endorsed or sought formal connections with LESMC.
3. The introduction of a state bill AB2235 which would require the State Commission on Teacher Credentialing to develop authorization in ethnic studies. Authored by Assemblyman Jose Medina who orchestrated the high school ethnic studies mandate (AB101) last year, AB2235 would give the state education apparatus deferential power to determine how ethnic studies should be taught.
In summary, all these developments are engineered by a small but well-connected group of fringe ideologues to hijack California’s public education, corrupt the teaching of ethnic studies and indoctrinate our students.
California has the lowest literacy rate of any state and our public education system needs serious reforms. At this critical juncture, it is inconceivable for the educational bureaucracy including woke UC, radical lawmakers and politically motivated school district leaders to divert massive public funds to institute liberated ethnic studies.
Please act now to urge Governor Gavin Newsom and Superintend Tony Thurmond to stop LESMC from spreading in local schools. You can fill out the short form and send the customizable sample letter ( developed by CFER’s partner Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Studies, ACES) to make your voice heard. Alternatively, you can also fill out ACES’s form here.
Thank you in advance for your support!
Your name will be automatically added to the bottom of this letter when submitted.*
Dear Governor Newsom and Superintendent Thurmond,
A warped, harmful version of Ethnic Studies is being promoted in California school districts, propagated by activists of the for-profit Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (LESMC) group. Portions of this curriculum are precisely the ones that AB 101 refers to, when it specifies that LEAs should not use material that the SBE rejected from early drafts of the ESMC “due to concerns related to bias, bigotry, and discrimination.”
I ask that you:
1. Direct the CDE to notify local school districts that LESMC’s content does not meet Legislative intent for Ethnic Studies and will not qualify for the Ethnic Studies graduation requirement mandated by AB 101.
2. Ensure that none of the state-budgeted $55 million for Ethnic Studies is allocated to the LESMC or similar curricula, which contain content that the SBE rejected from the ESMC and that do not meet Legislative intent.
3. Inform the UC Board of Regents that LESMC curricula should not count as UC approved (A-G) courses.
Reacting to the initial draft of the ESMC, Governor Newsom insisted that the draft “will never see the light of day,” and President Darling-Hammond declared that it “falls short.” Yet precisely this same material is marching through the state of California in the form of the LESMC curriculum and teacher training.
For example, the Castro Valley Unified School District Board recently approved a contract with the LESMC group – an organization formed explicitly in order to preserve the material and ideological agenda rejected from the ESMC.
The LESMC group leadership consists of the same activists responsible for the rejected content from the ESMC. These activists launched a campaign in May-August, 2020, to circumvent the SBE, lobbying school districts to adopt the toxic first draft of the ESMC, before the SBE approved a revised version. They are the same individuals who withdrew their support from the final SBE-adopted version of the ESMC, reflecting their commitment to inject the narrow LESMC political agenda into the curriculum.
To understand further the connection between the LESMC and the first, rejected ESMC draft (and biased content referred to by AB 101), please note that the LESMC’s Vision Statement includes guiding principles that were specifically rejected from the ESMC draft. Recognizing that their material has already raised concerns across the state, the LESMC suggests to teachers to “fly under the radar” of administration and that teachers should “shut their doors and teach their students liberatory curriculum.”
Please issue a statement to alert school districts to the serious concerns behind the facade of the LESMC. Our students deserve better.