Activists campaign to include Arab-Americans in US school curricula

Activists campaign to include Arab-Americans in US school curricula
2 min read
26 November, 2020
Arab-Americans are campaigning to be included in a new ethnic studies curriculum being rolled out in California.
Arab-Americans are campaigning for visibility [Getty]

Activists have launched a campaign to include Arab-Americans in the US school curriculum, with claims that the ethnic group continues to be ignored by the education system.

Last week, the State of California approved of adding Ethnic Studies to the school curriculum, allowing students to learn about the many different cultural and ethnic communities in the US.

The Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) will be used as a guide to help school districts interested in adopting the subject.

The curriculum was created with the aim of covering four areas: Black/African American studies, Latino/a American studies, Native American studies and Asian American studies.

Arab Americans are fighting to be included in the new scheme, which they say will help raise awareness about Arab culture and work to fight anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia in the US by fostering better understanding.

A 20-member coalition of organisations known as Save American Studies has come together to campaign for the inclusion of Arab Americans in the ESMC.

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Some of the organisations include the California branch of the Council of American-Islamic relations, Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Asian Americans Advancing Justice California, the Chinese Progressive Association, Jewish Voices for Peace Bay Area, MPower Change, Middle East Children’s Alliance and Teachers 4 Social Justice.

In an open letter to educators across California, the Save American Studies expressed outrage that Arab-Americans were excluded from the curriculum.

"We are outraged that the expertise of ethnic studies practitioners and the Arab American community continues to be ignored as people with little knowledge of, or experience in the field get to set the terms," they said.

"We refuse to accept the pedagogically and academically unsound Arab American lessons in the appendix. In today's political climate, ethnic studies is more important than ever. All our students need and deserve education to help them navigate the oppression they face based in the principles, values and pedagogy on which ethnic studies was founded."

Arab Americans have played a key role in civil society and have been recognised in helping flip the vote for President-elect Joe Biden Michigan and Pennsylvania against Donald Trump.

"Arab Americans have an opportunity to unite, and leverage their collective power to advance key policies of shared principle, human rights at home and abroad, and mutual interest," Arab American community organiser Al-Sharif Nassef wrote in an opinion piece for The New Arab, when describing the community's leverage in the 2020 elections.

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