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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #21-03
January 13, 2021
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and Experts Discuss Approaches to Understanding and Countering Islamophobia

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today joined leaders from the Islamic Networks Group (ING) in a virtual classroom session on understanding and countering Islamophobia. The event was the third in a series of ongoing virtual classroom and professional development sessions that are part of the Education to End Hate Initiative, a multifaceted effort to use the power of public education to drive change and confront racism and bigotry.

“After seeing so many symbols of hate paraded through our nation’s capital last week, it’s clear that we must recommit ourselves to addressing and understanding all manifestations of hate such as Islamophobia,” said Thurmond. “And we must also commit to working together and discussing ways to create a future that’s inclusive and safe for all students. I launched the Education to End Hate Initiative in September to confront incidents of hate, bigotry, and racism rising across the state and nation—and it’s abundantly clear that it’s important now more than ever.”

Over the past few months, State Superintendent Thurmond and the California Department of Education (CDE) have hosted a series of virtual classroom and educator professional development sessions designed to engage students, educators, and families in a wide-ranging dialogue about the many forms of bias young people face across California and ways schools can lead efforts to end discrimination.

This virtual classroom session, “Understanding and Countering Islamophobia,” featured Maha Elgenaidi, the founder and Chief Innovation Officer of ING, and Ishaq Pathan, ING’s Bay Area Director. The presentations focused on showing how Islamophobia is enabled and disseminated, the impact of Islamophobia, and how it can be countered. They also drew the connection between Islamophobia, anti-blackness, and the “othering” of minoritized populations by showing how Muslims are racialized. The presenters also connected these concepts to the experiences of students and provided strategies for teachers to avoid harmful racist stereotypes. More information on Islamophobia, including an educator toolkit, is on the ING website External link opens in new window or tab..

The Education to End Hate initiative has three components: Educator training grants, which have been awarded to schools and districts across the state and will be used to support the improvement and development of curriculum as well as address systemic problems in policies and procedures; this virtual classroom series; and the upcoming creation of a roundtable with leaders, social justice organizations, educators and lawmakers to brainstorm additional ideas for ways schools can influence the change necessary to ensure a physically and emotionally safe learning environment that is inclusive for all students.

This was the third event in the virtual classroom series. Previous sessions included “Understanding Contemporary Anti-Semitism: An Introduction for California Educators” in December and “Pedagogical Approaches to Teaching about Native Americans” in November. Future offerings will be announced on the CDE’s social media pages.

An archived broadcast of this virtual classroom session can be found on the CDE Facebook page External link opens in new window or tab.. Members of the public with questions and feedback on the initiative are encouraged to reach out at

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, December 27, 2023
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