New York City Schools Will Teach About Antisemitism and Islamophobia

New York City Schools Will Teach About Antisemitism and Islamophobia

New York City Schools Will Teach About Antisemitism and Islamophobia

All middle and high school principals will receive new training, after the system faced criticism for doing too little to address the Israel-Hamas war.

New York City will offer new curriculum materials on antisemitism and Islamophobia in its public schools and train principals and teachers on how to have difficult conversations about politically charged issues, officials said on Monday in response to criticism that the system has done too little to address the Israel-Hamas war.

In higher education, colleges like Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania have faced a backlash over their responses to the war. A speech announcing the new effort by the city’s schools chancellor, David C. Banks, illustrated how difficult it has been for K-12 leaders to stay out of the fray.

New York City Schools Will Teach About Antisemitism and Islamophobia
In higher education, colleges like Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania have faced a backlash over their responses to the war. A speech announcing the new effort by the city’s schools chancellor, David C. Banks, illustrated how difficult it has been for K-12 leaders to stay out of the fray.

“The way through this moment is not to malign our students or to impose our own ideologies on them — or to bury our heads in the sand,” Mr. Banks said on Monday. “We must educate our students, and sometimes our staff.”

He added: “We cannot and will not have schools where students feel like they can do whatever they want without accountability for their actions.”

The chancellor’s message was among the most direct acknowledgments of continued fallout over the war from a major American public school district. It came two months after a raucous demonstration at Hillcrest High School in Queens — where officials said a pro-Israel teacher was targeted — became a major flashpoint for some Jewish families, who argued the system had not done enough to quell bias in schools.

Since October, local conflicts in New York and other districts have often erupted into animated controversies on the national stage. A number of parent leaders and educators who have vocally supported Palestinians have encountered online harassment. And this month, a Brooklyn grade school faced outrage after a resurfaced social media post showed a classroom map that did not include Israel but called the region Palestine.

New York City Schools Will Teach About Antisemitism and Islamophobia
After the episode at Hillcrest in November, in which hundreds of students filled the halls during a protest against the teacher, who had posted support for Israel on social media, Mr. Banks had condemned the disorder as unacceptable. But he also called for understanding that many students had been exposed to painful images of the war on TikTok and other social media platforms.

On Monday, Mr. Banks said all middle and high school principals would receive mandatory training in March on “navigating difficult conversations” and would then be asked to bring the training to their school staff members.

In addition to expanding teaching materials on antisemitism and Islamophobia, he said the Education Department would offer anti-discrimination workshops to parent leaders. And the chancellor said he would also convene an “interfaith advisory council” to help shape his response.

Mr. Banks was seeking to respond to criticisms, but also said his goal was to provide a more uniform plan for tackling the impact of the war in Gaza in a system that is particularly diverse, with tens of thousands of Jewish, Muslim and Arab students.

New York City’s public schools, like many districts and universities, are under a federal civil rights investigation into reports of discrimination, and Mr. Banks said the system has been fast-tracking its own inquiries into complaints of antisemitism and Islamophobia.

Source: The New York Times

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