Institute for Curriculum Services

Rating: 5 stars   16 reviews

Issues:

Location: San Francisco CA USA

Mission: ICS was founded by our JCRC in December 2005 as a national initiative due to growing concern about bias and inaccuracy regarding Jews, Judaism, and Israel in school textbooks.  The founders discovered that Jewish history was being inaccurately and negatively depicted and that no Jewish organization was addressing this problem. Every organization assumed that another had to be doing something about this.  Problems included: • Jews being blamed for Jesus’ crucifixion • Judaism being presented as a strict or violent religion contrasted with a warm and loving Christianity • One-sided blaming of Israel for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and omission of plight of Jewish refugees from Arab countries • Judaism being presented as irrelevant or obsolete after Christianity began Tens of millions of American students, including our future leaders and policy makers, Jewish and non-Jewish, learn about Jews, Judaism, and Israel each year through social studies textbooks. Unfortunately, students are learning inaccurate and biased information, for example, that Passover is a celebration of the killing of Egyptian firstborn.  That’s why the Institute for Curriculum Services works directly with textbook publishers to improve their textbooks’ accuracy.  Since our inception, ICS has obtained almost 2,000 concrete corrections to Jewish and Israel related content in over 160 textbooks found across the country, including to the above examples.  Fixing textbooks is one part of the equation.  Educating educators is the other, which is why ICS is also committed to curriculum development and teacher training.  This year, ICS was selected as the San Francisco Community Federation’s Program of the Year (under 2 min video here was made for the award ceremony: http://sfjcf.wordpress.com/2009/06/12/federation-program-movies/#teen) and we were recently selected for inclusion in Slingshot – a zagat-style guide to the 50 most innovative Jewish non-profits in North America (www.slingshotfund.org).  ICS is an independently funded national initiative of the JCRC and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.  JCRC is the fiscal agent.
Direct beneficiaries per year: Hundreds of thousands of American K-12 students and hundreds of social studies teachers
Geographic areas served: Nationwide

2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

8 people found this review helpful

ICS has been a fantastic resource for me in helping to formulate educational materials and strategies for our community about Israel. Their work is comprehensive, thoughtful, insightful, balanced, and provides a wonderful overview of how to present Israel t multiple audiences. Their staff is a pleasure to work with and are always amenable and proactive about providing us with with their resources and guidance. ICS is an outstanding non-profit organization and a value not just to the Greater San Francisco community, but to many communites around the country.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

helping redesign our own website.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the need to decide what serves my own constituency the most

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

outstanding.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

go national.

Ways to make it better...

they could just re-design my website for me!

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-12-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

12 people found this review helpful

Ever since I read about ICS in the J, I've been impressed by their important work, enough so that I urged my husband that we should make a larger donation than we ever have to any organization. We did, and we've been extremely pleased by regular reports about the ongoing successes ICS has had. That such a small staff can accomplish so much is amazing. We've been invited to presentations about the work being done and the ensuing results and receive regular communications. ICS may have a small profile but, through its steady efforts, it makes a large impact on the accuracy of what's presented about Jews, Judaism, and Israel in textbooks. It's an impact that can significantly alter attitudes of the next generation. We are grateful for their dedication to doing what's necessary in the background.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

reading the changes that have been made in texts.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

can't think of anything

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Witnessing how much a small group with minimal funds can have such a big impact. Presentations are chock full of information but given in a way that does not create boredom or overload.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Articulate, friendly, dedicated, knowledgeable.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

hire more people.

Ways to make it better...

can't think of anything

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

having enough staff and funds to stretch their reach

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

I am a JCRC director who can testify to the professionalism of the ICS staff and to their expertise in the subject areas. They did a terrific job in our State, reviewing a large number of textbooks in a timely fashion. Their hard work resulted in 700+ edits which removed inaccurate and biased statements about Jews, Judaism, Israel and the Holocaust. I was impressed with the thoroughness and clarity of their critiques and the persistence with which they followed up in those (few) instances in which publishers did not immediately accept their suggested revisions. ICS performs a critical service for the American Jewish community, which would otherwise face the prospect of responding on an individual basis when egregious errors are brought to our attention. They also perform a critical service for American students of every background who, because of ICS, have access to accurate textbooks. Having participated in the textbook adoption process in my State for many years, I can say without reservation that ICS was able to accomplish more in a few months than we have been able to do locally in years.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

observing the professionalism with which they worked

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

uniformly excellent

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

it could be a viable actor in every one of the 50 states

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-1-01

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

11 people found this review helpful

The Institute for Curriculum Services has exceeded every expectation. With an outstanding team, ICS has catipulted itself onto the national Jewish scene as the go-to place for making sure that American textbooks are accurate with respect to Jews, Judaism and Israel. They have achieved stunning success after stunning success. They have developed excellent relationships with publishers and received great feedback for their teacher traning. With 50 million American students in public schools what a great contribution they are making to what is taught about Jews, Judaism and Israel.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Seeing the tangible results pour in has been exceptionally fulfilling. ICS is playing a truly unique role in American Jewish life.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-11-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

9 people found this review helpful

I was aware that textbooks often contain misinformation about Jews, Judaism, and Israel and that there was no national Jewish organization focused on addressing this problem. I believed there was no more important need, so I contributed $$ to form the Institute for Curriculum Services. Their work is outstanding, and I am glad I was able to help the Institute for Curriculum Services. The staff is professional, scholarly, committed, and hard working. If more people contributed, they could increase their achievements.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

textbook reviews, teacher training, and curriculum development by following their progress.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

like to see it receive enough funding to be secure long term.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

their success and the knowledge that my coutribution helped make this possible.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

committed, academically sound, scholarly, and hard working.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

hire more staff and reach more publishing organizations, thus ensuring that Jews, Judaism, and Israel are accurately presented in classroom materials.

Ways to make it better...

more people had contributed like I did.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

lack of financial resources.

One thing I'd also say is that...

there is no more important organization that people can contribute to, and more people should contribute.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-11-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

9 people found this review helpful

As a (retired college-level) educator I have been astonished by the wildly inaccurate ideas about Jews and Judaism that I have occasionaly heard voiced by my students. There are, of course, many sources of this misinformation, but one that I would judge to be important is elementary school classes and textbooks. The Institute for Cirriculum Services, in addressing both of these issues is doing boh the Jewish and the larger community a great service by identifying specific misstatements in textbooks, and by conducting teacher workshops to help clear up any misconceptions they may have. This is difficult and exacting work, involving (for example) not only tactful negotiations with publishers, but also carrying out lengthy and sometimes tedious close reviews of the textbooks in question. As the saying goes, "it's a tough job, but someone has to do it"; however to my knowledge no one was doing it before ICS! Hats off to them for identifying this problem, and addressing it so effectively.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Competent, dedicated and hard-working.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Do a lot more of what they're doing!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-6-01

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Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

6 people found this review helpful

ICS is one of the most effective organizations I've come across - it is really making a difference in what American students learn about Jews, Judaism, and Israel. It has incredibly dedicated and talented staff people. I was shocked by a text that asked students to examine the claim that the Holocaust was a small scale purge of minorities. As a result of ICS efforts, the publisher agreed to remove that activity which legitimized Holocaust denial.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

hearing about changes made that improve the accuracy of textbooks

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

make it become its own 501c3

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

its effectiveness

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

amazing, dedicated, passionate, smart, and responsible leaders

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

grow to the next level, hire an executive director and other key positions, pay staff more competitive salaries.

Ways to make it better...

it had greater resources

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

the fact that many people don't realize that ICS is completely independently funded and does not receive money from JCRC or JCPA.

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

9 people found this review helpful

As the director of the JCRC in Sacramento, CA, from 1980 to 1996, I began working with our Education Committee Chr., Susan Mogull, to testify at Department of Education hearings for California Social Studies textbook adoptions. Many egregious errors in the texts were brought to our attention by concerned parents and we felt the only remedy was to convince the State Board of Education and textbook publishers that changes were required. From this modest, but important beginning, Susan Mogull worked to establish ICS which has become a nationwide organization. I continued for many years to help prepare reviews and sometimes to testify. I cannot think of a more important organization than ICS which helps teachers and students all over the country have an accurate picture of Jewish history, culture and religion. Teachers were/are often ignorant of the facts and rely heavily on on the textbook and teacher's guide. It is critical to the well-being of our community that what is taught in public schools does not contribute to anti-semitism or anti-Israel expression. This is the only organization that has a successful track record of working with publishers to make critical changes in the text. Although I am no longer involved on a regular basis, I continue to support ICS in any way I can.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the CA State Board of Education requiring publishers to make changes and publishers beginning to work with the organization before the hearings to make sure they get the facts right.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-1-01

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

I am the director of education at the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond, Virginia. I educate teachers on Holocaust and genocide, teach middle school and high school students in special programs. This year we were able to oversee the passage of HB 2409, a bill on Holocaust education. 2009 has been especially busy because social studies textbooks are up for adoption. The Virginia DOE reviews and approves a large number of textbooks, but the various school systems are free to adopt any of the approved books. The Institute for Curriculum Services has reviewed every single book approved for middle and high school for accuracy and sensitivity to the Holocaust and genocide. This is an extremely time consuming job and it was done knowing the importance of teaching history accurately. The staff listened to suggestions, implemented and wrote reviews making it possible for me to understand what Virginia students will be learning in the coming years.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my knowledge of what teachers and students will know from their textbooks on the subject of Holocaust and genocide.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The commitment to accuracy and knowledge of the subject matter. The people are just amazing!

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Publish support material for teachers and students, go to conferences around the country, hire more staff to continue their work!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-11-01

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

8 people found this review helpful

I first heard about the Institute For Curriculum Services through my volunteer work on the Jewish Community Relations Council. From the very first I was impressed with the idea of learned Jews looking at our childrens' textbooks and pointing out the misstatements contained about Judaism. I was horrified at some of the awful inaccuracies the children were learning in school. One sentence said (and I paraphrase) that Passover is about the celebration of the killing of the first born Egyptian child. Anyone that is familiar with the story knows that Passover is about freedom from slavery and much more, but certainly not about celebrating death. So the Institute carefully goes over the texts and attempts to correct these blatantly false statements. Over the years as I hear more about their pioneering work, I am so thankful they are out there. Especially, now that my grandchildren are getting into the grades that teach about religion I am thrilled that the Institute is on the watch to make it right. No one else to my knowledge is doing this work..so they are unique. A greatly needed resource for our Community.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the way my grandchildren will learn about Judaism in public school.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

thoughtful and intelligent.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

hire the experts to go nationwide and check some of these textbooks for the dreadful errors and at times almost anti-semitic statements that are passed off as the truth about Judaism.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-1-01

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