Here are five things that all policy professionals, elected and appointed government officials, and community leaders must know about the link between ethnic studies and antisemitism in American public schools.

Since the October 7 massacre committed by Hamas against innocent Israelis, Americans have witnessed an uptick in pro-terror, anti-Jewish demonstrations and rhetoric, and K-12 public schools are no exception.

1. Ethnic Studies started in California when universities started teaching “Black Studies.” The Third World Liberation Front (TWLF) led this effort. A Washington Examiner piece by Mike Gonzalez cites Jason Ferreira’s, chairman of San Francisco State University’s Race and Resistance studies department, interview in a Socialist Worker article, “The TWLF was formed based on the political principle of Third World solidarity, which is animating Cuba, Algeria, Tanzania and Vietnam. So it’s no coincidence that they called themselves the TWLF — like the National Liberation Front in Vietnam,” Gonzalez goes on to point out that when the TWLF was active, the National Liberation Front, otherwise known as the Viet Cong, was killing and torturing American soldiers.

Soon, universities began teaching topics including African American Studies, Chicano Studies, and Native American Studies. A diverse curriculum is one component of a well-rounded liberal arts education. But, Ethnic Studies has become anything but.

2. Ethnic Studies promotes misinformation about colonialism” and “white supremacy” that often targets Jews and alleges all Jews are “white” or “white adjacent” and illegally occupy Israel—both of which are verifiably false claims.

  •  Thanks to the Jewish diaspora and intermarriage, there are Jews of many skin colors and backgrounds. Israel is home to Jews from all over the world including Ethiopian Jews, Persian Jews, Indian Jews, and North African Jews.
  •  Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people.  Starting in about 1000 BCE the land of Israel was a unified Jewish kingdom. The Jews were exiled in 586 BCE, and returned in the 2nd century BCE. Later, in 63 BCE the Romans took over Judea and in 70 CE destroyed Jerusalem and exiled many Jews.  The Jewish people did not have their state again until 1948 when the United Nations voted to create what we now know as the state of Israel.

Despite these facts, many Ethnic Studies curricula continue teaching that Israel is a colonial project in which “white” Jews are oppressors. Teachers ought not to use the classroom as a political soapbox or target students of any ethnicity, religion, or background.

3. Ethnic Studies is often taught under the name “Critical Ethnic Studies” or “Liberated Ethnic Studies” both of which focus on white supremacy, systemic racism, and privilege, connecting to “resistance” movements, and teaching students to be activists rather than responsible, educated citizens.

4. Ethnic Studies often divides students into oppressors and victims based on skin color and sometimes gender and sexual orientation. Ethnic Studies forces students to accept its predetermined “truth”  and discourages critical thinking. This is part of its agenda to turn students into activists rather than focus on the basics such as reading, math, and science.

5. It is critical that every state enact some type of school choice that allows all parents to choose a school best equipped to give their child a quality education. Education savings accounts and magnet schools are two examples.

No parent, Jewish or non-Jewish, should be forced to send their child to a government school that peddles Jew hatred. 

To learn more please check out Parents Defending Education’s Ethnic Studies resources.