California District Administrator Calls for ‘Privileged White Voices’ to Be Banned From Influencing Ethnic Studies Curriculum
Hope Sloop, Daily Mail, January 22, 2023
A school district administrator in California has sparked outrage for stating she believes ‘privileged White voices’ should not be involved in establishing lessons.
According to reports, Sarnia Shoman with the San Mateo Union High School District sent an email in 2021 to the California State superintendent, Tony Thurmond, arguing against proposed changes to the ethnic studies curriculum.
‘We urge the [state board of education] not to give in to the pressures and influences of political lobbyists, racist & privileged white voices, and individuals,’ she said in the email, according to Fox News Digital.
The changes put forward included Jewish-American studies and curriculum that would have brought in ‘multiple perspectives.’
‘The proposed revisions privileges terms like “multiple perspectives,” “diversity,” “all students” and “broad range of groups” undermining the primary focus on the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) communities that compose over 80 percent of California’s student population,’ Shoman wrote in the email.
The email, sent around the time the State Board of Education approved the Ethnic Studies Curriculum, was obtained via a public record request by Zachor Legal.
The educator continued, allegedly calling for a more extreme ethnic studies curriculum, specifically pertaining to the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘[E]ven in the African American lesson on the Black Lives Matter movement, which is a direct response white supremacy fails to call out and analyze racism and systemic oppression,’ she said in the email.
She also urged against changes that would include Jewish-American studies.
According to one outlet, Shoman is the co-coordinator of the Middle East Children Alliance’s Teach Palestine initiative.
A pro-Palestinian advocate, Shoman said she wholeheartedly disagreed with the choice to include Jewish people in ethic studies under the Asian American and Pacific Islander categories.
‘This is grossly inaccurate, and has no institutional history,’ she said.
Shoman is responsible for overseeing the district’s English learner and academic support programs. According to her bio on the district’s website, she is a California native with ‘Palestinian roots.’
‘I have dedicated my career in public education to promoting racial and social justice in the classroom and broader educational organizations and space I work in,’ the educator’s bio says.
The woman also works in ethnic, guided, and family engagement studies and has a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in Education from San Francisco State University.
‘I see my role as visioning and advocating for the continuous improvement of the programs that serve our most vulnerable, but resilient, student populations,’ she says in the bio published on the district’s website.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, the district said the following:
‘Dr. Shoman … was appointed and served on the California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Advisory Committee.
‘She and her fellow committee members wrote to the California State Board of Education in their roles as members of this Committee to express their opinions.
‘In their letter, the committee did not call for the erasure of Israel, Jews, Jewish perspective or Jewish history in the curriculum. They do suggest that these topics do not belong under the umbrella of Asian American and Pacific Islander History.
‘Further, the group does not criticize multiple perspectives but rather urges the Board of Education to center BIPOC voices through this curriculum.’
Officials with the San Mateo Union High School District could not be reached by DailyMail.com by the time of publication.
In a statement to Fox News Digital Marc Greendorfer of Zachor Legal called Shoman’s statements false.
‘The position taken by Samia Shoman and others to treat Jews, the true indigenous people of the land of Israel, as ‘white’ occupiers and colonists is utterly at odds with history and facts,’ Greendorfer said.
He also took issue with the idea of ethnic studies, in general.
‘While the idea of ensuring students are taught about the history of all ethnicities is one we support, we have found that these programs are anything but educational. Instead, they are political indoctrination by extremists who are working to institutionalize bigotry and hate in education,’ said Greendorfer.
DailyMail.com was unable to reach Shoman for a response to Greendorfer’s statements or comment in regard to the Fox News story.
In October 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation making California the first state to require high school students to complete a semester-long ethnic studies course.
The mandate doesn’t take effect until the 2025 to 2026 school year but many schools around the state have been offering related courses for years.
A guideline for the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum states the principles including promoting ‘the values of civic engagement and civic responsibility,’ ‘self and collective empowerment,’ and ‘critical thinking and rigorous analysis of history, systems of oppression, and the status quo in an effort to generate discussions on futurity and imagine new possibilities.’
According to 2022 WalletHub research, California is the most diverse state in the US using metrics like socio-economic diversity, cultural diversity, economic diversity, household diversity, religious diversity, and political diversity.
Other top diverse states include Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, and Arizona.
The least diverse states are Iowa, Ohio, Utah, Wyoming, Kentucky, Montana, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and West Virginia.