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Defend Ethnic Studies for Our Students! Save Our Curriculum at the CA Dept of Ed Now!

Students of color deserve to see themselves in school curriculum. The fact that they don’t is a problem. For 50+ years there has been a movement for racial justice and equity in the classroom. African American, American Indian, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and Chicanx/Latinx students, along with progressive white allies, have fought for Ethnic Studies—an education that serves their communities and expands beyond the biased Eurocentric curriculum. They have organized high school walkouts, college student strikes, rallies, sit-ins, and hunger strikes.

The struggle continues. Today, we need to continue countering hatred and discrimination across groups. Communities of color, who are part of the global and state majority, cannot be marginalized as the CA Department of Education (CDE) moves forward with finalizing the AB2016 CA Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. The current draft was prepared by CDE writers, further developed by the Advisory Committee, reviewed and approved by the Instructional Quality Commission for public comment. The core of the model curriculum focuses on the histories and social justice struggles of communities of color in the U.S.  

While revisions are a normal part of the process, this curriculum is under attack.  Groups with little to no experience in the discipline have waged an aggressive lobbying campaign against the Ethnic Studies model curriculum framework. These politically motivated attacks could delay or fundamentally dilute a curriculum framework written by expert practitioners. Worst yet, the curriculum framework may be entirely scrapped and rewritten by  those without expertise in the field.  

After 50 years of struggle and work for this moment, it cannot be taken away from us at this last second — doing so would be an act of institutional racism. Our students deserve an authentic Ethnic Studies curriculum. The voices and guidance of communities of color and Native people must remain at the heart of it.

There is not a single student in California who would not benefit from taking an Ethnic Studies course. According to research, Ethnic Studies curriculum in high schools has demonstrated an increase in: (a) GPA across disciplines, (b) high school graduation rates, (c) college-going rates, and (d) sense of belonging.  Studies show that Ethnic Studies narrows “the achievement gap” for students of color. In fact, research demonstrates significant advantages for white students, too. This potential cannot be compromised. California’s 1.9 million high school students (1.4 million are of color) cannot wait.  Once finalized, this Ethnic Studies curriculum could help students as early as next year!

This curriculum has strong support from 22 CSU Ethnic Studies departments, UC Ethnic Studies faculty, teachers and educational leaders—including Dr. Christine Sleeter of the National Education Association who was specifically cited in AB2016. Supporters also include large organizations with memberships in the thousands who are California voters, representing communities of color and our allies for educational, racial, and social justice.

At this critical moment, we need you to join us. Support and protect the integrity of the current CA Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum draft before September 19. Save CA Ethnic Studies now! 

Click here to join us today in demanding that the CA Department of Education, Instructional Quality Commission, State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond, State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, and Governor Gavin Newsom:

  1. Keep the current model curriculum draft (with some revisions) focused on the histories and social justice struggles of communities of color in the U.S.
  2. Maintain the Ethnic Studies curricular framework—with disciplinary knowledge, language, and pedagogy—by not diluting or converting it into a non-equivalent field (i.e., multicultural studies, diversity studies, or area studies).
  3. Improve accountability, transparency, and make revisions with Ethnic Studies expert practitioners, including members of the ES-MC Advisory Committee, throughout the entire model curriculum revision process and up until its completion and ratification.

Click here to see the list of supporters.