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January 18, 2017

Pro-Israel group urges Philly schools to stop Black Lives Matter week

The Zionist Organization of America fears lessons will include anti-Semitic materials

A pro-Israel group has urged the School District of Philadelphia to prohibit a proposed Black Lives Matter week being planned by a local teachers organization.

The Caucus of Working Educators, a faction of the teachers union, is developing lesson plans and curriculum ideas for teachers to highlight Black Lives Matter principles during classes next week. The group also is encouraging teachers to wear Black Lives Matter T-shirts and buttons throughout the week.

But the Zionist Organization of America called on the School Reform Commission to prohibit such activities, saying such lessons would politicize learning in violation of district policies and possibly include anti-Semitic materials.

RELATED STORY: Teachers in Philadelphia plan a Black Lives Matter week

"Black Lives Matter is a political movement," ZOA leaders wrote in a letter to the SRC. "District policies specifically prohibit political activities on school property and on school time."

The ZOA urged the SRC to issue a "district-wide directive prohibiting educators from carrying out the Caucus' plan."

The Caucus announced its intentions last week, saying the lessons will be distilled from the Black Lives Matter movement's 13 guiding principles, which include embracing diversity and globalism.

"The vast majority of students that we serve are black, and it's important to affirm the lives of our students," co-organizer Charlie McGeehan said earlier this week.

McGeehan, who teaches high school humanities at The U School in the city's Norris Square neighborhood, said talks to develop such a curriculum began in October.

Earlier this week, a school district spokesman didn't comment directly on the caucus's plans. A spokesman for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers said it couldn't comment because the plans were not a union-sponsored activity.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.