Letter: Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Draft Supported by Large Armenian American Organization

The widespread support for the original Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Draft continues, as support from leading educators of color, community-based and grassroots organizations, institutions, professional associations, K-12 and higher education Ethnic Studies departments, school boards, anti-racist and equity-based educational programs continue to grow. Here, a letter from Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) to the California Department of Education shows this support for the original draft, while also advocating for the expansion of the West Asian American Studies section of the curriculum. 

Dear State Board of Education President Darling-Hammond, State Superintendent Thurmond, and Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Advisory Committee,

The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) reaffirms our support for the CA Ethnic Studies framework draft, with revisions and additions of the West Asian experience, specifically in relation to Armenian-Americans.

ANCA-WR strongly supports the intention to create a curriculum that “presents an opportunity for teachers to develop culturally/community relevant and responsive pedagogies that are both revitalizing and sustaining.” We welcome the drafters’ efforts to include, and urge further development on, more expansive definitions of West Asian American diasporan experiences, inclusive of peoples historically marginalized from California curricula, and United States scholarship writ large, such as Armenian-Americans.

Please know that we have a wealth of resources, materials, and talent in the field of Armenian-American Studies that can help with preparing units in this course of study that would give voice to the generations of families and their children who have long waited to have their stories told.  Please feel free to call upon us. We stand ready to assist you as needed.

We look forward to contributing, supporting, and celebrating the outcome of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum in California’s public schools that truly represents the diversity of our State. We look forward to continued dialogue and welcome the draft’s expansion to include the realities of groups from the region using experts within the field of Ethnic Studies.

The full letter from ANCA-WR to the California Department of Ed in support of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum draft may be found here, and the recent ANCA Press Release may be found here.  Contact Armen Sahakyan for more information.

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  1. Alan Miller

    Are Jewish groups on board with the current version?

    I’m not quite sure what the Asian support sign has to do with Armenian history.

    I am so on board with breaking the white WASP view of history that was taught when I grew up.  That shouldn’t be.  The sticking point with many Jews is the de-facto subtle dismissiveness towards Jews by some of the progressives pushing — at least past versions of — this legislation.

    While I support this effort, I have a serious concerns about the logistics.  Even when only white WASP history was taught, we never got through 1/3 of the history of the US.  We pretty much stopped just after the Civil War.  And I’ve talked to people who graduated decades after me who had the same experience.  When we add the views of Jews, Palestinians, Asians, Armenians, Natives . . . and so on and so on and so on . . . where is the teaching time for this?

    Not a criticism of the idea, a serious question of the how.

    And as I’ve said before, I support this all being taught as ‘history’. Having ‘history’ and ‘ethnic studies’ as separate devalues the so-called ‘ethnic’ views as part of history. History is the totality of the experiences of all people, not just the white WASP version.

    1. Bill Marshall

      I second all of Alan’s points…

      His points are valid enough under the topics:  history of the State, US history… orders of magnitude more of World History… examples: contributions of Asians and Arabs for math concepts… the number zero… algebra… ;  gunpowder, the first muskets, and fireworks/rockets… Chinese…

      1. Alan Miller

        WM, yes, but even back in the day we got the token history – George Washington Carver, etc.  Not to minimize GWC.  The history of all the peoples that make up the united states is so much deeper than “see, there are smart black people, too”.  It needs to be told from their viewpoint(s).  That, I believe, are a few of the problems with where it comes from now.

        1. Bill Marshall

          I agree, even if it has to only be vignettes… in math, the contributions of other races/ethnicities, etc.  I think we’re on the same page, but may be focusing on different paragraphs.

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