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Dear State Superintendent Thurmond, State Board of Education President Darling-Hammond, and State Board of Education Members,

I am writing to urge you to hear the voices of Armenian-American Californians. Don’t cut us out of the California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum! Include our histories and experiences in the proposed California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum in a meaningful way.

The CDE recommended edits in Item 09 Attachment 2 completely erase the experience of Armenian-Americans along with other minoritized communities. The ANCA Western Region and the Armenian-American community has been engaging with the California Department of Education for over one and a half years having submitted over 9,000 public comments over this process and demonstrated the importance of the issue to Armenian-American families in California.

As Armenian-Americans we have the following asks from the State Board of Education:

    • Item 09 Attachment 2 Recommendations must be rejected.
    • The recommendations suggest that the following groups be taken out of the main curriculum. Please reject these recommendations and re-insert:
      • Armenians, Iranians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Copts, Kurds, Druze, and Yazidis, and Amazigh. Arabs and West Asian Jewish communities have been moved to the main curriculum. Include Armenian-American studies in the main curriculum under the West Asian American category. 
  • The Draft as it stands should not be approved at this time.
  • The status of the Bridging section (now named Sample Lessons) is unclear and must be clarified to the public, and added in the main curriculum.

The Armenian-American experience in the United States has grappled with issues of refugeehood, erasure, immigration, and marginalization. Many Armenian-American students are immigrants, children of immigrants, and English Language Learners. Armenians have been subjected to racialized and discriminatory practices similar to other communities of color and have been subjected to what Dr. Angela Valenzuela calls “subtractive schooling” – assimilation through deculturalization.

Our long history within the United States, our racialized experiences, our significant contributions to the American social and cultural fabric, as well as our community’s resistance to state oppression in coalition with other communities of color has been left out of the model curriculum. It is imperative that Armenian-American students see themselves as part of the larger California community and see their experiences reflected in the California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.

We strongly support the Original Model Ethnic Studies Curriculum but we insist that the Armenian-American experience be included in a meaningful way within the West Asian American Studies category. Our scholars who work in the field of Ethnic Studies should be consulted in the writing of the curriculum that represents our communities.

Don’t cut us out or represent us in a reductionist manner. We urge you to hear community voices calling for the inclusion of West Asian American experiences within Ethnic Studies, and the necessity of Armenian-American histories within that experience.


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