The San Francisco Unified School District has issued a letter clarifying its resolution to implement Arabic-language curriculum in schools after concerns surfaced in recent weeks with an Arabic community group named in the resolution.
The resolution, passed unanimously by the Board of Education in May, calls for the district to explore offering Arabic- and Vietnamese-language pathways programs for kindergarten through 12th-grade students, beginning in the 2017-18 school year. Per the resolution, the SFUSD is also advised to work with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, among other community groups, to develop “culturally appropriate professional development opportunities” for teachers at certain schools.
But language used by AROC to allegedly “push a radical Anti-Israel and Anti-Zionist agenda in San Francisco,” according to a June 17 letter from the Jewish Community Relations Council to school district leaders, prompted local Jewish community leaders to urge the SFUSD to eliminate the group from the resolution.
On Wednesday, the district sent a letter signed by Superintendent Richard Carranza and six of the seven Board of Education commissioners to city leaders and community members, apologizing to those who may have taken offense by the resolution and explaining the district’s process for creating new curriculum.
“This statement clarifies the district’s position, and also clarifies the intent of this resolution,” Commissioner Sandra Fewer told the Examiner. “This resolution is first and foremost about serving the public school students of San Francisco.”
The letter notes that the SFUSD is not required to work with any specific organization when developing curriculum, and that no contracts have been awarded to any organization. The district also emphasized that it is not interested in engaging in geo-political discussions.
“In our passing of [the resolution], we name specific organizations because of their role in providing support and resources to SFUSD families as it relates to language development,” the letter states. “We apologize for giving any impression that we may have taken a political position or if anyone was offended.”