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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

'P' is for propaganda

Let's dump the curriculum and teach Palestinian propaganda instead, said a group of Oakland (CA) teachers. They proposed an all-day "teach in." Um, no, said district officials.

One early-elementary lesson proposed for the "teach in" encourages children to identify what they "will chant at a Palestine protest," reports Jill Tucker in the San Francisco Chronicle. In an alphabet book titled P is for Palestine, the letter "I" represented “intifada,” which refers to armed uprisings by Palestinians against Israeli control of disputed land. (The book says the word means"rising up for what is right!")

“It is the job of educators to teach students how to think critically, not to teach them what to think," said a district statement. It reminded teachers "to keep their personal beliefs out of the classroom.” In late October, the teachers' union, known as the Oakland Education Association (OEA), released statements demanding “freedom for Palestine,” calling for an immediate cease-fire, and denouncing Israel as an “apartheid state,” reports Tucker. OEA leaders urged teachers to teach pro-Palestinian curriculum.

However, the proposed teach-in is "not an OEA-sanctioned event," said Kampala Taiz-Rancifer, a union leader, in an email.

Only one third of students met or exceeded state English standards in Oakland Unified in 2023. One quarter met or exceeded math standards. Enrollment is declining.

Update: The OEA reversed itself and endorsed the teach-in. Some teachers taught pro-Palestine lessons, including livestreamed a panel discussion featuring three speakers, reports Jill Tucker in the Chronicle.

Tunde from the Black Alliance for Peace, described the “project to exterminate Palestinians” as collusion between Israel, the U.S., the European Union and other western powers and a “genocidal campaign,” she writes. "Violette, from the Palestinian Youth Movement, urged students to become involved in the liberation of Palestine." A left-wing Jewish speaker told students to boycott companies that support Israel's military.

“This was not an attempt to provide a balanced viewpoint on the current conflict in Israel and Gaza to enable students to be critical thinkers,” said Megan Bacigalupi, a district parent. “How could it be when no panelist or the moderator mentioned the Oct. 7 attacks or Hamas once? It was an attempt to indoctrinate Oakland kids to hate the state of Israel and by association, Jewish students.”

Will anything happen to the teachers who defied the district? Don't hold your breath.

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