Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ethnic Studies Courses Break Down Barriers and Benefit Everyone—So Why the Resistance?
 by J. Gabriel Ware — YES! Magazine

Ethnic Studies Courses Break Down Barriers and Benefit Everyone—So Why the Resistance?
 by J. Gabriel Ware — YES! Magazine:

Ethnic Studies Courses Break Down Barriers and Benefit Everyone—So Why the Resistance?


As cities incorporate curricula that deconstruct stereotypes and negative assumptions about race, advocates say everyone wins. Others argue they just promote resentment.

Ethnic Studies Seattle.jpg
Students raise their fists in solidarity with four students on a hunger strike to defend the funding of the San Francisco State University of Ethnic Studies. Photo by Melissa Minton / Flickr.


Last year Mackenzie Martinez, who’s Mexican American, asked her U.S. history teacher about the roles Asian and Hispanic Americans played in the civil rights movement. She was told Hispanic people had no role in the movement because they were not in the U.S at the time. Months later, while reviewing the curriculum of a Los Angeles ethnic studies course, Martinez learned that Hispanics had, in fact, been involved in the civil rights movement.
Now a senior at The Center School in Seattle, Martinez says she feels robbed of her education by not being taught the contributions and history of different groups of people.
“All I ever learned about was Dr. Luther King and Rosa Parks—that’s the extent of my cultural education,” she says. “America is a melting pot, so we shouldn’t have to ignore the other ingredients.”
“America is a melting pot, so we shouldn’t have to ignore the other ingredients.”
The NAACP’s Seattle chapter is working to change that with a resolution that would insert ethnic studies into the city’s public schools. Because Seattle Public Schools faces a debt of $74 million, the proposal doesn’t ask for the creation of new ethnic studies courses, but instead the incorporation of ethnic studies into existing courses—such as history, math, and language and comprehension—by relating course materials to diverse backgrounds.
The support for ethnic studies programs in public schools is spreading throughout the nation. In Texas, Senate Hispanic Caucus Chair Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, is leading a bill that would require the state’s board of education to develop ethnic studies as elective courses for middle and high school students. A similar proposal in Santa Fe, New Mexico, would ensure that students have the option to take ethnic studies as a social studies elective.
Meanwhile, other cities are already adopting ethnic studies curricula in their public schools. In Portland, Oregon, the school board voted in May to offer high school ethnic studies classes that will focus on the history, culture, and social movements of people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ communities, starting in 2018. In 2014, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and El Rancho, California, voted to make ethnic studies courses a graduation requirement; last year, a state law was signed requiring the state board of education to create an ethnic studies program for all high schools by 2019. And nearly 12 years ago, Philadelphia implemented an African American history course as a graduation requirement, making it the longest-running ethnic studies program in public schools.

Why the need for ethnic studies courses?

Seattle Public Schools is the largest K-12 school system in Washington, with about 52,000 students in 97 schools. And although more than 40 percent of its students identify as races or ethnicities other than white, the curriculum taught is through a Eurocentric prism.
“I talked to a lot of these students and one of the things they tell me is that they don’t see themselves in the curriculum,” says Rita Green, Seattle/King County NAACP education chair. “We need to add the contributions of all cultures. If students aren’t learning it in schools, [in many cases] they won’t learn it at all.”
The NAACP noted that Seattle has one of the greatest disparities nationally in academic achievement between students of color and white students—particularly between African American and white students. A recent study from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education found that ethnic studies courses improved the academic performance Ethnic Studies Courses Break Down Barriers and Benefit Everyone—So Why the Resistance?
 by J. Gabriel Ware — YES! Magazine:

Ethnic Studies Now Coalition http://bit.ly/24vIwvP

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