Teachers across Oakland host anti-Israel 'teach-in' in defiance of school district

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Violette, a speaker from the Palestinian Youth Movement, told students that their involvement is critical for the liberation of Palestine.

“Young people have a huge role to play in this movement,” Violette said, according to the Chronicle.

Megan Bacigalupi, a parent within the school district, was irate after she said that she watched the panel on a livestream.

“This was not an attempt to provide a balanced viewpoint on the current conflict in Israel and Gaza to enable students to be critical thinkers,” she said, according to the outlet. “How could it be when no panelist or the moderator mentioned the Oct. 7 attacks or Hamas once? It was an attempt to indoctrinate Oakland kids to hate the state of Israel and by association, Jewish students.”

On Monday, teachers were advised by superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell to comply with district policy when it comes to teaching contentious issues. This policy stipulates that such material must be presented in an unbiased manner and supported by factual information.

“I want to again make clear that our expectation is that all educators, in every classroom across the District, take seriously their responsibility to adhere to principles of education, and to keep their personal beliefs out of the classroom,” she said in a statement.

A FAQ section containing background information on the teacher’s union’s stance on issues pertaining to the Israel-Palestine conflict, including its perspective on Hamas, was also incorporated into the proposed curriculum, the outlet reports.

“Hamas is complicated; it was started in part by the state of Israel and there has been no election since Hamas was voted in in 2006,” according to the document. “We are not taking a position on Hamas.”

Hamas is regarded by the United States and other Western powers as a terrorist organization.

The district’s recommended curriculum on the conflict, according to teach-in organizers, is biased toward Israel, and some of the resources have connections to pro-Israel organizations that are attempting to “eliminate the words Palestine, settlements, and occupation” from the curriculum.

Sam Davis, a member of the school board, expressed concern that the teach-in curriculum did not include sufficient historical context regarding the Israel-Palestinian peace movement, such as the Camp Davis Summit of 2000 and other endeavors to encourage dialogue in pursuit of a peaceful resolution.

“There have always been efforts to resolve the conflict and that is a message that our young people need to hear,” he said, according to the Chronicle, “a message of hope that does not fit into the narratives of Hamas or (Israeli Prime Minister) Netanyahu are promoting.”

In November, the teachers union issued contentious statements advocating for “freedom for Palestine” and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Moreover, they characterized Israel as an “apartheid state” whose leaders espouse “genocidal rhetoric.” The teach-in followed their statements.

The union leaders implored educators to incorporate their stance into the classroom by providing a pro-Palestinian curriculum. They pledged to defend those who did so in the event of repercussions.

Both parents and teachers threatened to leave the school district over the anti-Israel coursework, and parents encouraged their children to leave the classroom once it was being taught, the outlet reports.

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