AACC Welcomes Decision by SAUSD to Keep Palestine in its Ethnic Studies Curriculum. 

The Arab American Civic Council welcomed the decision by the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) to maintain its current Ethnic Studies: World Geography curriculum, including all content related to Palestine. 

Recently, the SAUSD has come under pressure from pro-Israel lobbyists to remove its Palestinian history section from its Ethnic Studies program. Dozens of community members and activists attended the Santa Ana Unified School District meeting on Tuesday, May 24, 2023 to show support for the district’s approved Ethnic Studies curricula that includes an accurate narrative of Palestinian history. 

Click here to see photos from the May 24, 2023 SAUSD board meeting.

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 and pro-Israel lobbyists 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.

During the SAUSD board meeting on May 24th, board members heard arguments from the community mostly in favor of the curriculum and ultimately deciding to keep the course as is. SAUSD Superintendent reiterated that the district has no intention of removing any narrative from the curriculum.