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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Political correctness and academic runs amuck with ethnic studies curriculum

Uploaded: Aug 22, 2019

Cooler and wiser heads seem to be prevailing in the justified controversy over the new California ethnic studies curriculum.

The Legislature passed a measure in 2016 requiring the curriculum be written and in use by March 31, 2020. The comment period closed Aug. 15 and it’s likely headed for some serious revisions.

A committee, heavy on academics, produced the draft curriculum that has been widely panned. Hundreds of negative comments have been received and last week state schools Superintendent Tony Thurmond and leaders of the Jewish caucus in the Legislature strongly called for a fresh look.

Jewish people are rightly concerned because the draft largely ignores anti-Semitism and identifies Israel largely on the basis of “oppression of the Palestinians” and barely mentions the Holocaust.

The CalMatters piece reporting on the controversy quoted R. Toltkea Cuauhtin, a member of the advisory committee on the project. He defended the use of academic speak, “misogynoir, cisheteropatriachy, hxrstory” as appropriate as it is use to use technical terms in a chemistry class.

Please. One of the writing lessons I learned decades ago is if I use a six-bit word that confuses the reader instead of a two-bit word, I’ve failed in the goal to communicate effectively. The academic needs to apply the same thinking.

The glossary also portrays the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions anti-Israel movement in an amazingly one-sided way. The movement is defined as a “global social movement that aims to establish freedom for Palestinians living under apartheid conditions.” A devoted pro-Palestine state advocate would not have put it any better.

Sadly, this reflects the way liberal and progressive thinking dominates education, particularly at the collegiate level.

I opened an oped by Penny Vance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, about her concerns about the orientation day for her freshman son at Virginia Tech. The name badge for each student included not only name and major, but also the preferred pronouns to accompany his gender.

She observed that the school offered Halal food, but no certified kosher meals and encouraged students not to make assumptions about fellow students’ gender or sexuality.

Vance wrote, “Why should a public institution be allowed to violate teachers’ First Amendment rights by bullying them into using the made-up terms they/them, zie/zim, ey/em (or about 60 more) instead of she/her or he/him? The reordering of centuries of grammar usage is an offensive overcorrection, and it bullies Christians, Muslims, and other students into violating their consciences to appease a small group of nonsensical identity politics warriors.”

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Posted by Roxie , a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 22, 2019 at 8:43 am

Tim - I hope you read Peggy Noonan's august 17/18 column in the WSJ - you are a Mike McAlary type reporter. Thank you for that!

Posted by Wombat, a resident of Downtown,
on Aug 22, 2019 at 9:21 am

I agree that a lot of the people in ethnic studies departments tend to be a bit far out there in the wackiness scale, but I don't think that their behavior is representative of the thinking and attitudes of colleges and universities as a whole.

Posted by James Michael, a resident of Val Vista,
on Aug 22, 2019 at 9:23 am

James Michael is a registered user.

So I guess that old Beatle's song "I Me Mine" would become, what...Ze Zem Zoom? Thank God we still have Christian schools in America.

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Aug 22, 2019 at 12:24 pm

The idea that gender is a fluid concept, not at all related to the DNA and types of chromosomes people actually have, comes from right here in California. Why else do you have a list of dozens of pronouns listed on the UC Davis website Web Link ? In this website, of course, are various nutcase statements such as “I'm Jade and my pronouns are ze and hir."

Unfortunately this nonsense including the "everyone is a victim" mentality that began right here in California is being spread across the nation to universities across the land.

The best approach that parents can take in all of this insanity is to just instruct their students in public K-12 and colleges just to not speak to anybody. That way they won't be suspended for some sort of ridiculous "microaggression." Or forgetting to call someone the pronoun "ze."

Posted by Bill, a resident of Pleasanton Heights,
on Aug 22, 2019 at 2:13 pm

About what I expect from our aging curmudgeon. You are supposed to understand Tim. The world is moving on without you. Goodbye. Enjoy Grass Valley, or some other bastion of the previous generation. Your golden age is over. I prefer the age that is coming.

Posted by Propaganda, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Aug 22, 2019 at 3:13 pm

This is biased political propaganda disguised as an alleged curriculum. The left-wing anti-Semitic propaganda that is embedded in this reminds me of Nazi Germany. The curriculum depicts Israel as a nation oppressing Palestinians and has direct political quotes from BDS Web Link which seeks to end Israel.

With the vocal support of BDS, sounds like Ilhan Omar wrote the curriculum.

I will bet that no one adopts this political propa....I mean, um, curriculum anywhere.

Posted by sjd, a resident of Livermore,
on Aug 22, 2019 at 5:57 pm

You started off okay with trying to balance out Israel and Palestine one-sidedness but then drifted into utter defensive nonsense.

“First Amendment rights of teachers to say whatever they want," and “bullying" doesn't make sense in this context. Asking teachers to make a good faith effort with pronouns is the same as asking teachers to make a good faith effort to remember names.

It's not always true, but in this case “replace political correctness with ‘treating people with respect'" actually makes a lot of sense.

Asking people what they want to be called is not “too much." You're just too lazy to be respectful.

Posted by Jake Waters, a resident of Birdland,
on Aug 22, 2019 at 11:56 pm

Jake Waters is a registered user.

First, any major ending in ‘studies' is a waste of a parent's investment in their child's college education. Secondly, liberals know that if they can control your language through the manipulation of words, labels, and definitions, then they can control the way you think. Please America, stop from easily becoming dumb down and don't let them do this.

Posted by Pleasanton Resident, a resident of Ruby Hill,
on Aug 23, 2019 at 1:33 pm

Hello Tim,
It's a little confusing whether you wish to completely ignore or just belitte the plight of the Palestinians in your critique of the curriculum. We can all wholeheartedly agree that there is no room for anti-Semitism in any curriculum including in the rhetoric espoused by our current leadership in Washington DC. However I am confused as to where you stand in your support of the Muslim community that has also made it home here in the Tri-Valley and who also reject anti-Semitism but also do not support the heavy handed treatment of the Palestinians.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Aug 23, 2019 at 7:23 pm

Palestinian Muslim train, brainwash their children to hate Israeli state and Israeli people. Palestinian children receive instruction and intense training to hate Israel state and the Israeli people.

The Palestinian Muslims provide cartons on television for toddlers that teach and instruct their toddlers to hate. The children grow into mid-teens and young adults' early twenties, determined to kill and disintegrate Israel.

Iran is supplying the Palestinians with stockpiles of ordinance, arms, much of which come from Russia and China.

The Israel government is forever vigilant guarding against attacks to their people. It is necessary and it is Israel right to defend themselves against this intense hate concentrated towards them.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Aug 24, 2019 at 10:06 am


Posted by pleasantonweekly.com, a PleasantonWeekly.com blogger,
on Aug 25, 2019 at 4:30 pm

pleasantonweekly.com is a registered user.

Posted by Dogi Lal, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School,
on Aug 26, 2019 at 11:28 pm

I expect from our aging curmudgeon. You are supposed to understand Tim. The world is moving on without you.
Web Link

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Aug 28, 2019 at 4:46 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

"It's a little confusing whether you wish to completely ignore or just belitte the plight of the Palestinians in your critique of the curriculum."..."but also do not support the heavy handed treatment of the Palestinians."

The Palestinian leadership has consistently refused to come to the negotiating table with the Israelis. Meanwhile, they continue to hurl bombs at innocent Israelis every single week.

If the Palestinians don't want "heavy-handed treatment", perhaps they should stop their terrorism.

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Aug 28, 2019 at 5:06 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

I refuse to play make-believe with those wishing to change the language to suit their lifestyle choices.


I see a man on a street corner proclaiming himself Jesus. I don't think of him as Jesus any more than I think of a man dressing up like a woman actually being a woman.

There is a small segment of our society with a big megaphone. They need to be ignored and shunned for asking us to play pretend.

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