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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
August 14, 2023

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:

Education to End Hate: Countering Antisemitism

Education is the most important tool to counter the rise in antisemitism and other forms of hate across our state and our nation. I encourage you and your teachers to join the livestream of an important virtual roundtable discussion on Wednesday, August 23, 2023, at 10 a.m. with three influential leaders who work to counter the recent rise in antisemitism.

We will explore the topics of understanding Jewish identity, addressing antisemitism, the importance of solidarity among communities targeted by hate groups, and the role that public education can play in combatting hate. I am grateful that Dr. Anita Friedman, Sarah Levin, and Rabbi Meyer May will join me for this timely conversation. This event will be livestreamed and archived so that educators can use the critical information that will be shared in middle and high school classrooms throughout the school year.

I have pledged that the California Department of Education (CDE) will intervene whenever we learn about an antisemitic act or other forms of hate at a California public school. We will work side-by-side with school and district leaders to ensure that teachers have the resources and partnerships needed to address both the immediate crisis and the long-term educational implications. My priority is to empower educators and students to confront the hate, bigotry, and racism rising against several communities in the state and nation. That is what the Education to End Hate series is all about, and it is critical that we start by addressing antisemitism.

This virtual roundtable will bring together community and faith leaders to frame the issue. After exploring the history and identity of the Jewish people, the conversation will turn to the rise in antisemitism and other forms of hate. We will discuss the intersectionality of the struggle against hate and how antisemitism is connected to the rise in hate against Black, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Latinx, LGBTQ+, and Muslim American communities. We will then discuss how education—and, specifically, public education—plays a critical role in combatting hate, and we will share resources that are available to educators so that accurate history and learning can help address this growing crisis.

The panelists joining me in this conversation include:

  • Dr. Anita Friedman, Executive Director, Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, and Marin and Sonoma Counties
  • Sarah Levin, Executive Director, JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa)
  • Rabbi Meyer May, Executive Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museums of Tolerance

In October 2021, I joined the Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education as Co-Chair to help identify instructional resources to teach students across California about the Holocaust and other acts of genocide. With these efforts and conversations, education has the power to be a great equalizer and to help us grow, understand, and find a pathway to healing. It is also the way to build inclusive and welcoming school environments.

I have also partnered with the National Equity Project to help implement the $20 million Antibias Education Grant Program provided through allocations in the 2021 and 2022 California state budgets. The last round of application for the grants closed on July 20, 2023, and you can read more about the program on the CDE Antibias Education Grant web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ps/antibiasgrant.asp. Please see the CDE news release at https://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr20/yr20rel77.asp to learn more about the Education to End Hate Initiative.

As evidenced by the work of the Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education, my Education to End Hate Initiative, and the Antibias Education Grant Program, I have hope that we can work in solidarity through education toward a better future for California students.

Please save the date for the Countering Antisemitism virtual roundtable on August 23, 2023. Registration details are forthcoming. The roundtable will be livestreamed, and the video will be archived on the CDE Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CAEducation. I encourage you to consider livestreaming the event at your individual sites or to play the recording of the event for your middle or high school students.

Sincerely,

Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Last Reviewed: Monday, August 14, 2023

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