Imagine yourself in a classroom, and realizing that not only have you been learning about the same ethnic background, mainly white history to be exact,  and you think that students should be able to expand their learning on different ethnic backgrounds. But looking around the classroom there are no books on Asian, Mayan, African, or Polynesian culture. In some circumstances, if someone was to ask students to at least give 10 facts about their ethnic history, more than likely they can’t. Teachers mainly teach about whites or African American history, this limits students knowledge of other ethnic backgrounds. This is due to how there is no ethnic studies course given to students. Many high schools in California can provide an ethnic studies class to students but choose not to due to funding or prioritizing other electives. Ethnic studies is a class where students have a chance to learn about their cultural background and others. Ethnic studies can increase students knowledge of their history. Having ethnic studies will help improve knowledge of students’ ethnic background and the lack of ethnic studies can lead to students losing their cultural identities. With the help of school administrators, students, and superintendents ethnic studies can become a mandatory elective in high schools all over California.

An ethnic studies course covers learning about different cultures like Asian, Pacific Islanders, Latino, etc. Ethnic studies is different from traditional history classes because in regular history classes students learn more about war, laws, our country, slavery, and white supremacy ethnic studies gives students a better understanding of what other cultures are made of or what they are about. Often times students hear stereotypes about a culture and think what they are hearing are facts. For example, people think Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence. If they took an ethnic studies class, they might learn that that Cinco de Mayo is a commemoration of a minor battle in Puebla, Mexico and that Mexican Independence Day is on September 16th. The purpose of going to school is to add on to what you’ve learned so far. So if you have already learned European history, it is time for you to learn about other cultures. How will students ever understand multicultural groups if no one teaches curriculum focusing on them? This is a social justice issue because many people do not know anything about Pacific Islander, Asian, African or Latino cultures and when a student’s own culture is the focus of a course, that student feels as if their culture is valued. Know that ethnic studies is a positive contribution for a student’s learning. According to the Dallas News, “Ethnic studies helps students to bridge differences that already exist in experiences and perspectives” (Ragland, 2017). However, understand that certain school districts do not think that way and tend to ban ethnic studies from their curriculum. According to a Stanford News article written by Brooke Donald, Arizona had a hard time accepting the fact that their students wanted an ethnic studies class added to their curriculum (Donald, 2016). And, according to an August 2015 Huffington Post article titled “Arizona Gets Schooled: Update on Ban of Mexican American Studies,” the state actually banned ethnic studies courses. Although, Arizona has looked down on ethnic studies, school districts in Oakland, California and San Francisco have added ethnic studies as a required course in high schools.

 

 

  • Interview Questions
  1. Why do you think ethnic studies is important?
  2. What are the long term effects that ethnic studies have?
  3. Has there been any challenges implementing ethnic studies in the whole district?
  4. How did you become the ethnic studies coordinator for the districts?
  5. Do you think teachers need certain training to teach ethnic studies?
  6. Is ethnic studies in Oakland different from other cities?
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CC BY-SA 4.0 Need For Ethnic Studies by Stasia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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