‘It is important to weave it into the curriculum’

Princeton Public Schools may include lessons on antisemitism in curriculum

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Princeton Public Schools officials are considering revisions to some of the district’s curriculum to include more information on antisemitism and all forms of hate.

The potential revisions to the curriculum stem in part from having to meet new state standards in English Language Arts and also in part from the results of a survey taken by Mercer County Jewish teenagers that sought their input on antisemitism in their schools.

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in November 2023, the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks discussed the results of the survey on antisemitism in public and private schools with the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.

More than 70% of Mercer County Jewish teenagers who were polled on antisemitism last spring said it is a problem at least some of the time in their school, according to the survey.

As the school district revises its curriculum to meet new state standards in English Language Arts, it may be able to include lessons on antisemitism, said Kimberly Tew, Princeton’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

“This is very good timing in reviewing some of our courses and how it aligns with the history courses and the ‘Pathway to Racial Literacy’ course,” she said.

School board member Susan Kanter said she had discussed the issue with Tew, who in turn has discussed it with her team.

“We (need to) have clear goals in mind when we put (teaching about) Holocaust and antisemitism in the curriculum – what we want our students to learn,” Kanter said. “It is important to weave it into the curriculum.”

School board member Beth Behrend agreed that students need to be educated about antisemitism and all forms of hate. It is on the rise in many different forms, she said.

“None of us have had to deal with this level of hate that’s in the air and on social media,” Behrend said.

“The teachers are on the front lines and have to deal with events day-to-day.”

Interim Superintendent of Schools Kathy Foster said the district would work with teachers to help them recognize antisemitism, help them know what to look for and to be more intentional with the students.

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