Oakland Unified opposes pro-Palestinian lesson planned by teachers

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Friday, December 1, 2023
Oakland Unified opposes teachers' planned pro-Palestinian lesson
The Oakland Unified School District is opposing the pro-Palestinian lesson planned by teachers next Wednesday.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- As the war between Israel and Hamas continues, so too does the battle in school districts around the Bay Area.

On Wednesday, a group of teachers in Oakland are planning what they call a "Palestine Teach-In."

"Planning to lead lessons, lead activities, that really center Palestinian stories and experiences," said Jacob.

Jacob, who asked us not to use his last name, is one of the OUSD teachers participating.

He tells ABC7 News the curriculum the teachers plan on using comes from a variety of sources and is designed for different age groups.

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That includes an alphabet book on YouTube for TK through third graders, called 'P is for Palestine.'

The video makes reference to intifada - an Arabic word that's means rebellion - and has been historically connected to armed uprisings by Palestinians.

"The quote from that page says intifada is standing up for yourself or for what's right, which I think is a very age-appropriate way to interact with that term," Jacob said.

The Oakland Unified School District has come out against the teach-in.

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The statement reads in part:

"The District is aware that some educators want to teach their students about the situation in Gaza and Israel with a very specific view of who is at fault and why... It is the job of educators to teach students how to think critically, not to teach them what to think. We are reminding all educators of their responsibility to adhere to principles of education, and to keep their personal beliefs out of the classroom."

Those in support of the teach-in reject that statement.

They also say they are vehemently opposed to antisemitism in any form.

The pushback against the teach-in isn't just coming from OUSD though.

MORE: Bay Area students navigate difficult discussions, tensions amid Israel-Hamas war

Some local Jewish organizations also think it's inappropriate.

That includes Tyler Gregory, the CEO of the local chapter of the Jewish Community Relations Council.

"I think that this curriculum incites violence against Jews and Israelis and has no place in any school district," Gregory said.

Gregory says his organization has heard from several Jewish families in the district - some of whom plan on keeping their students home from classes that day.

He believes at a time of heightened tensions, the teach in will only further divide the community.

"We're confident that the administration is going to have consequences for those that participate in this, the teachers. Because it's totally unacceptable," said Gregory.

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