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CA county faculty board trustee says he is silenced after studies of Marxist-inspired ethics curriculum

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A trustee on the Santa Clara County, California, Board of Education says he has been silenced after making an attempt to place plans for brand spanking new Ok-12 ethnic research curricula on the board’s agenda for dialogue with the general public.

Joseph Di Salvo, 69, is utilizing his 33 years of expertise as a former Santa Clara County faculty trainer and principal to spotlight considerations about ethnic research curricula proposed by Santa Clara training officers that he feels the general public has a proper to debate with the trustees they elected.

“I needed to place this on the agenda and have folks come and speak about it with the varsity board trustees,” Di Salvo, who described himself as a “progressive, liberal Democrat” in favor of ethnic research curricula that do not divide college students, informed Fox Information. “I have been thwarted to get it on our agenda for public discourse.”


“It is so opposite to a democratic course of,” he added.

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The California State Board of Schooling in March approved a 900-page, statewide Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) for prime faculties to assist college students perceive the tales of “traditionally marginalized peoples which are sometimes untold in U.S. historical past programs.” It was unanimously permitted in an 11-0 vote.

It additionally requires ethnic research to be intertwined inside “a spread of disciplines past conventional historical past and social sciences, together with however not restricted to: visible and performing arts, English language arts, economics, biology, gender and sexuality research, and many others,” The Related Press reported.

Whereas California’s 1,037 faculty districts should not being required to implement the curriculum mannequin, a brand new invoice may change that.

Democratic Assemblyman Jose Medina in December launched California A.B. 101, which would require highschool college students to finish a full-year ethnic research course to obtain their diplomas beginning within the 2025-2026 faculty yr and depart the content material of such programs as much as the discretion of every district.

The Santa Clara County Ethnic Research curricula proposal shouldn’t be associated to the ESMC in any method apart from one tie that binds: Jorge Pacheco, a fourth-grade ethnic research trainer and Oak Grove College District Board vice chairman, helped design each the state ESMC and Santa Clara County’s ethnic research initiative. 


The county’s board of training in June permitted a decision to help the brand new ethnic research curricula, which, in contrast to the ESMC, might be taught on the middle-school stage or decrease.

The board mentioned the initiative “is meant to deepen college students’ sense of shared historical past, the numerous contributions of traditionally underserved populations,” and assist “college students perceive and recognize the wealthy histories and cultural contributions of assorted communities that problem racial oppression,” according to a press launch.

Greater than 80% of Santa Clara’s 263,000-person scholar physique are college students of shade, with Latino college students making up the biggest proportion of the scholar physique at 38% and Asian college students making up the second-largest at 30%.

Each side of this argument seem to agree that Santa Clara college students may benefit from basic ethnic research curricula that mirror college students’ numerous backgrounds, however county residents disagree on educating types and messaging.

Panelists who spoke throughout a Santa Clara County trainer virtual training session final yr reportedly denounced the U.S. as a “parasitic system” based mostly on the invasion of “white male settlers,” in response to a recent report from the Citizen-Journal reporter Christopher Rufo.

SCCOE slideshow (Credit score: Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Research)

One Santa Clara father or mother, who spoke to Fox Information on the situation of anonymity as a consequence of worry of retaliation, mentioned she has listened in on these coaching periods and confirmed Rufo’s report. 

A slideshow presentation given throughout one such coaching session purportedly offers educators recommendations on the way to turn out to be “activist intellectuals” and says that so as to place an finish to techniques of oppression, one should “DESTROY/CHANGE THEM!”

SCCOE slideshow (Credit: Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Studies)

SCCOE slideshow (Credit score: Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Research)

Neither the Santa Clara County Workplace of Schooling’s media contact, Superintendent Mary Ann Dewan or Pacheco responded to a number of inquiries from Fox Information. Di Salvo was the one trustee who responded to Fox Information.

Pacheco reportedly informed workers throughout one of many coaching periods that the curriculum relies on the works of Brazilian Marxist Paulo Freire, in response to Rufo.

SCCOE slideshow (Credit: Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Studies)

SCCOE slideshow (Credit score: Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Research)

Slides apparently offered through the session describe the county’s political system as a “system of oppression” that “occupies and usurps land/labor/sources from one group of individuals for the good thing about one other” and is “not only a vicious factor of the previous” however “exists so long as settlers live on appropriated land,” as Rufo first reported.

The presentation ends with recommendation to lecturers to “be further cautious” now that educators are “in folks’s houses” as a consequence of digital studying and notes that “district tips and expectations are obstacles” to the curricula plans, in response to Rufo’s reporting.

Di Salvo has been in touch with a few of his constituents and says he hears their considerations.

“I did hear from the neighborhood about issues that have been occurring in skilled growth,” he mentioned. “… I perceive the victim-oppression world and White supremacy — as a result of I’m White — which have wronged folks of shade for lots of of years, however within the classroom, we must be actually cautious with how we current info.”


He added that such discussions about race and ethnicity within the classroom take “extraordinary lecturers,” and that instructional content material shouldn’t be about “dividing kids by race” however bringing “kids collectively by race and commonalities.”

“It considerations me that among the literature — the purpose is to divide and level out that those that are White are the oppressors in a worldwide and American context and [Black and Indigenous people of color] have been the victims of our oppression,” he mentioned. “With what is going on on in America proper now … we higher do it proper, and we higher do it with conversations with the general public … quite than do issues that appear like they’re being deliberately hidden from the general public.”

Members of the general public every have one minute to make a remark to trustees through the board’s month-to-month conferences, which have been hosted through Zoom because of the pandemic. A timer mutes audio system after one minute. Placing topics on the board’s agenda permits trustees to debate issues earlier than the general public, which has but to occur with the ethnic research proposal.

Quite a few members of the general public took a minute every to voice considerations about curricula plans throughout conferences on Feb. 3 and on Feb. 17. Santa Clara residents and fogeys supplied differing opinions on the county’s ethnic research proposal, and a few criticized the board for not placing the topic on their agenda.


One such resident and father or mother is Lia Rensin, a board member on the ‎Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Research, a volunteer group arguing that the “curricula being proposed for Ok-12 California public faculties is divisive, encourages victimization, and promotes a narrow political ideology,” and that the answer is to advertise a extra inclusive and productive ethnic research curricula, in response to its web site.

Rensin informed Fox Information that greater than 600 Santa Clara residents and fogeys have signed a letter asking the Santa Clara County Workplace of Schooling (SCCOE) to make dialogue of the ethnic research curricula public for evaluate.

Rensin informed Fox Information that whereas curricula plans are left as much as particular person districts quite than total counties, she is worried that “the target of this initiative is to create a scalable curriculum for Santa Clara County” and that county officers “can try this beneath the guise {of professional} growth” and “push it out to each faculty within the county.”

Branham High School, San Jose, Calif. (Google Maps)

Branham Excessive College, San Jose, Calif. (Google Maps)

“We help ethnic research,” she informed Fox Information of herself and different dad and mom with considerations in regards to the proposed curricula. “We help the beliefs of ethnic research. We simply do not help this sort of ethnic research, and we imagine that there are points that ought to be mentioned if that is what our taxpayer {dollars} are going towards.”

She added that the varsity board’s “M.O. is to cover” and push agendas via with out adequate public enter.

“You’ve got bought this basic concept that the US has not modified in any respect in 250-plus years, that we’re nonetheless white supremacists as a result of we’re descendants of our forefathers, after which you might have violence … because the technique of change,” Rensin mentioned of the idea behind the ethnic research initiative. “…It’s extremely clearly indoctrination, and due to that, they’re fully subverting the parental position.”

Di Salvo in a March 3 SCCOE meeting tells different trustees that he has heard from “lots of” of his constituents who expressed help for an ethnic research curriculum and wish to see it on the board’s public agenda “as an info merchandise.” He requests “for the third time” that the trustees put plans for ethnic research curricula on the board’s “agenda for an info merchandise and dialogue.”

Trustees level out that the topic of ethnic research plans shouldn’t be “agendized” and due to this fact shouldn’t be mentioned. Di Salvo pushes again, saying the general public has not been capable of remark in any respect regardless of board communications on the topic.


Trustee Peter Ortiz then speaks up, saying Di Salvo needs “to offer a platform for right-wing organizers on this county … to criticize and assault our curriculum.”

Di Salvo then interrupts, saying Ortiz’s accusations “aren’t true.”

“You are not going to silence me, as a result of if you silence me, you are interrupting East San Jose and Downtown San Jose,” Ortiz mentioned. ” … You wait till I am performed talking like I waited till you are performed talking. Have respect.”

“Go forward,” Di Salvo mentioned.

“Do not inform me when to go. Your neighborhood has performed sufficient, okay? You’ll be able to shake your head. Our neighborhood doesn’t need to kiss the ring of prosperous folks … to be able to see our curriculum mirrored within the classroom,” Ortiz mentioned. “Our college students shouldn’t need to appease dad and mom in…rich, privileged areas to be able to see [that cirriculum].”

Ortiz added that he would proceed to name Di Salvo out for his questioning of the ethnic research plans, accusing his fellow trustee of “race-baiting” and “interesting to right-wing organizations right here on this county.”

Ortiz didn’t reply to inquiries from Fox Information. 


A petition on Change.org defends Santa Clara County’s ethnic research initiative, saying it’s “beneath assault” and desires “an all-hands-on-deck response.”

The petition from a gaggle referred to as the Santa Clara County Ethnic Research Coalition has greater than 3,600 signatures, although it’s unclear what number of of these signatures got here from Santa Clara residents. 

The coalition wrote that Santa Clara’s ethnic research initiative “was developed to fulfill the wants of scholars, households, communities, lecturers, faculty and college districts, so a lot of whom have been in search of management in growing Ethnic Research curriculum and approaches of their faculties.”

“Proper-wing activists are organizing in Santa Clara County to assault the Ethnic Research initiative,” the group continued. “There was the creation of a petition that claims the county workplace of training initiative in Ethnic Research is rooted in anti-American propaganda. We really feel that this petition relies on a lack of know-how and is a transparent misrepresentation of the nice work of the Workplace of Schooling, and its training companions.”

The coalition didn’t instantly reply to an inquiry from Fox Information. 

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