The Santa Ana Unified School District has come under pressure from pro-Israel lobbyists to remove its Palestinian history section from its Ethnic Studies program.
On April 25th, 2023, The Board of Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) approved a series of Ethnic Studies courses, including an Ethnic Studies World Histories Course and an Ethnic Studies World Geography Course. Both courses are designed to develop students’ empathy and understanding toward individuals and populations who have suffered from centuries of inhumane policies. The curriculum addresses the history of displacement and relocation due to slave trades, genocides, wars, colonization, and environmental destruction. The Curriculum looks to critique Euro-centric lessons that tend to ignore or gloss over the struggle of communities actively resisting contemporary practices of colonization and war, including Palestinians under Israeli occupation.
Since SAUSD approved these courses, the Board has seen a rise in attacks against the mention of Palestine. Right-wing organizations have directed these attacks. These organizations have a long history of silencing educators, students, and supporters of Palestinians and their struggle. These approaches attempt to conflate any criticism of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians with anti-semitism, a practice that leads to the dangerous attribution that Palestinians and Arabs are inherently racist.
Additionally, these actors have long participated in civil rights abuses through surveillance and information gathering against Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims, using the information to conflate targeted individuals with connections to terrorism. Further, these organizations often task themselves with conducting “damage control”, functioning as Israel’s PR machine to clean up brutal apartheid activities and crimes by attacking students, educators, and administrators who stand up for Palestinians.
Students of Palestinian and Arab descent (alongside the broader MENA region) routinely feel that school curriculums ignore and erase their existence. The SAUSD School Board has taken a bold and life-changing approach to teaching the history of people who have gone through oppression, government-led surveillance, and even death on Santa Ana’s soil. Defenders and supporters of the Palestinian and Arab cause should applaud the designers of Ethnic Studies. Supporters need to defend the curriculum for its accurate depiction of historical facts alongside the courageous step to healing society from a hard-to-discuss past.
CALL TO ACTION:
1) Send an email to the Santa Ana Unified School Board District
2) Check out the PYM Action Toolkit
3) Attend the SAUSD meeting to provide public comments this Tuesday, May 23, at the district office at 6 pm. It is important for us to show up, fill the room, and let the Santa Ana school board know that we support their decision to adopt an ethnic studies curriculum that includes Palestine, and stand with Ethnic Studies teachers and Palestinian students who are advocating for the preservation of these important parts of our schools’ curriculum. Address: 1601 East Chestnut Avenue Santa Ana, CA 92701.