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April 11, 2016
Re: Support for Assembly Bill 2845 (Williams) School safety: Safe Place to Learn Act
Dear Assemblymember O’Donnell:
I write to you today on behalf of Islamic Networks Group (ING) to support AB 2845, a bill that would require the California Department of Education (CDE), as part of its compliance monitoring, to assess whether local educational agencies (LEAs) have provided information to certificated staff serving grades 7-12 on school site and community resources for Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian (AMEMSSA) students along with other students facing harassment or discrimination.
The recent trend in Islamophobic rhetoric among politicians and others has resulted in a disturbing rise in the demonization of and fear mongering against American Muslims. This has led to a steep rise in hate crimes against Muslims, South Asians, and Sikhs across the nation in recent months. These have included physical assaults against mosques and Muslim businesses in California as well a spike in bullying against Muslim students. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, California Chapter (CAIR-CA), more than half (55%) of American Muslim students attending California public schools experience some form of bullying based on their religious identity. At ING we have received an unprecedented number of complaints from parents and students who have been called “terrorist,” had their scarves pulled off, or experienced some other form of bullying by other students.
We have also heard a number of complaints from both parents and students that teachers themselves are using inappropriate teaching tools or are demonstrating prejudice or discrimination against Muslim students. To prevent discrimination and provide tools for teachers that foster a better understanding of Muslims students, ING provides a teacher training for teachers, administrators and school staff titled Understanding Muslim Students: Fostering an Inclusive Environment. To learn more about the training seminar as well as other resources please visit our site.
We believe that AB 2845 is an important tool for addressing the problem of bullying and discrimination in our public education system as a result of increased Islamophobia. AB 2845 will ensure that school employees will be provided the necessary resources and information so that our students are provided the assistance and support they need when faced with school bullying and discrimination.
CEO, Islamic Networks Group (ING)
3031 Tisch Way, Suite 950, San Jose, CA 95128 | (408) 296-7312 | [email protected]