Sign Letter: Support Ethnic Studies and Stand against

Anti-Asian Racism &


State Board of Education

California Department of Education

1430 N Street

Sacramento, CA 95814 


March 12, 2021


Honorable Members of the State Board of Education,

We support the Asian Pacific Islander School Board Members Association (APISBMA) position that the final draft of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) be approved by the State Board of Education (SBE) on March 18, 2021. APISBMA’s key priorities include:

  • Retaining all sample lessons in the AAPI unit in Chapter 4 of the final ESMC draft.

  • Supporting the placement of additional Korean American lesson plans in the California Educators Together website under the Ethnic Studies Group Resources. We recommend that the California Department of Education develop a process for submitting additional lesson plans to be housed at the website so it can be a valuable living resource for educators.

The story of the AAPI community is not monolithic. In the United States, the AAPI community consists of about 50 ethnic groups with over 100 languages, and the “Asian Americans and the Model Minority Myth” lesson is foundational in highlighting that diversity and fostering a sense of belonging.  AAPI course outlines are the least represented in existing ethnic studies curricula that are housed in Chapter 6: UC Approved Course Outlines, thus their inclusion in Chapter 4: Sample Lessons and Topics is critical to ensure educators have an array of high-quality tools to build Ethnic Studies courses. 


APISBMA also maintains that AAPI Studies in Chapters 3,4,5, and 6 be approved. Furthermore, APISBMA endorses all suggestions by the California Department Education to the AAPI Studies with the following revisions to improve clarity:


  • Include an ESMC section on “The Benefits of Ethnic Studies” to discuss how Ethnic Studies benefits all students. 

  • We strongly support the inclusion of Jewish American Studies in the model curriculum, including the two lesson plans (30 & 31) in the Interethnic Bridge Building section. However, in Chapter 3:  Instructional Guidance for K-12 Education, Jewish American Studies should not be listed as a subfield under Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Studies.  In the recommended edits to the ESMC draft, the California Department of Education classifies Jewish American Studies within AAPI Studies. While some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders may identify as Jewish Americans, not all Jewish Americans are Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders. Including Jewish American Studies as a subfield of AAPI Studies will be confusing to students, educators, and the broader community. 

We also urge the State Board of Education and the California State Legislature to take the following steps to improve Ethnic Studies:


  • Provide sufficient financial and other resources for professional development programs in Ethnic Studies.

  • Establish sufficient funding and other resources and support for staff to update curriculum and improve Ethnic Studies in California K-12 education. 


“Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies” is an indispensable asset to the teaching of Ethnic Studies. We join local, statewide, and national organizations in support of the final approval of the ESMC; with the above edits to the instructional guidance, we believe California students will soon experience a curriculum that better represents the diversity of our communities and of our state. Please adopt the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Draft at the conclusion of the March 16th-18th meeting. 


Thank you.



Amourence Lee

San Mateo City Councilwoman

City of San Mateo, CA

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