Letter: Members of Jewish Community Stand in Solidarity with Ethnic Studies Proposal

The following is a letter to the School Board and District Administration of the Davis Joint Unified School District

From:  Members and Leaders of the Davis and Yolo County Jewish American Community

We, Members and Leaders of the Jewish Community of Davis and Yolo County, are writing to voice our support for the design, implementation, and coordination of an Ethnic Studies curriculum for the Davis Joint Unified School District. We understand Ethnic Studies to be the exploration of the experiences, contributions and struggles of the defined “Core Four” racialized ethnic groups in the United States (African-Americans, Latino/a Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans). We are mindful that the discipline of Ethnic Studies began in higher education through the combined efforts of African American and other students of color at San Francisco State University in the late 1960s, creating the first program of its kind in the United States.

Now, nearly 50 years later, Ethnic Studies Programs, Departments, and Courses studying all four groups’ histories, their struggles, and contributions to the history of the United States, are part of higher education across California and indeed across the entire country. As well, Ethnic Studies has been implemented in the K-12 context in various school districts in California, to address equity in education and support academic success in our Public Schools. Given that the Davis Joint Unified School District has a diverse student demographic, we support the inclusion of Ethnic Studies to promote the social and academic benefits for all students. Our specific support encompasses:

  • Acknowledgement that we reside on the traditional territory of Wintun people, and the recognition that Ethnic Studies is defined by the “Core Four” groups — African-American, Latino/a American, Native American, and Asian American — in the United States to address their identities, struggles, social movements, and contributions.
  • Support for establishing an Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee composed of local Ethnic Studies experts, educators, advocates, students and parents who identify with one or more of the “Core Four” groups.
  • Support for Ethnic Studies as taught with a focus on the United States/American experience, while considering that the Native American experience in the U.S. is also tied to indigenous sovereign nations.
  • Support for the idea of a future, and separate, advisory commission to address and enhance the current State Standard Curriculum regarding the Jewish experience in the United States and Internationally, including identities, struggles and contributions, the experience of Jews of Color, and the history of and current anti-Semitism.

As Jews, our interest in social justice for historically harmed, marginalized, and oppressed groups, is at the heart of what we see as our Jewish values. We see and acknowledge the history, harm, inequity and deep struggle that systemic racism in American society continues to uphold, and acknowledge that we, as Jewish people, must not stay silent or on the sidelines, as that inaction will only enable further harm. It is with this in mind that we offer this letter to support and endorse the efforts to bring equity in education to our school community through the inclusion of K-12 Ethnic Studies to the Davis Joint Unified School District.

Respectfully,

Rabbi Greg Wolfe
Rabbi, Congregation Bet Haverim of Davis, Ca; Past DJUSD Parent

Mitchell Singer
Co-President, Congregation Bet Haverim of Davis, Ca; Current DJUSD Parent

Steve Cohen
Co-President, Congregation Bet Haverim of Davis, Ca.

Roy Kaplan, MD
Chair, Social Justice Committee, Congregation Bet Haverim of Davis, Ca; Member, Yolo People Power

Elisabeth Dubin
Chair, Building and Grounds Committee, Congregation Bet Haverim of Davis, Ca; Current DJUSD Parent

Laurie Stillman
Chair, Education & Youth Committee, Congregation Bet Haverim of Davis, Ca; Current DJUSD Parent

Greg Brucker
DJUSD Educator; Davis Teachers Association Site Representative; Member, Social Justice Committee,
Congregation Bet Haverim; Co-Founder, Jewish Action NorCal; Current DJUSD Parent

Cynthia Goldberg
Member, Social Justice Committee, Congregation Bet Haverim; Past DJUSD Parent

Lyra Halprin
Member, Sister District CA-3 & Indivisible Yolo: Past DJUSD Parent

John Grindler Katonah
Member, Yolo Interfaith Immigration Network Board of Directors; Member, Social Justice Committee,
Congregation Bet Haverim; Former Member, Pastoral Care for Social Responsibility of National Association
of Professional Chaplains

Jonathan London
Associate Professor, Department of Human Ecology, UC Davis

Eva Mroczek
Director, Jewish Studies Program, UC Davis; Future DJUSD parent

Nora Oldwin
Board Member, Yolo chapter of the ACLU; Member, Yolo People Power; Former PTA president and Site
Council Member (Birch Lane); Former DJUSD Parent,

Seth L. Sanders
Professor, Religious Studies Department and Jewish Studies Program; Future DJUSD Parent

Mark Simon
Member, Yolo People Power; Current DJUSD Parent


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