SPECIAL TO THE VANGUARD
Sacramento, CA – More than four-hundred education scholars in California are calling on Superintendent Tony Thurmond and the California State Board of Education to support an authentic ethnic studies curriculum for CA public schools and the research documenting its benefits.
The letter submitted by CARE-ED, the California Alliance of Researchers for Equity in Education, was sent to the State Board of Education (SBE) for its March 18th meeting. Students, faculty, and scholars in higher education are preparing to testify at the March SBE meeting in support of an authentic ethnic studies curriculum that does not cave to anti-ethnic studies interests which have been pressuring its dilution.
The research is clear that a race-conscious ethnic studies curriculum, which includes critical race theory, does not fuel divisiveness as Trumpian conservative pressures claim; in fact, ethnic studies improves cross-racial attitudes and relationships. The current California K-12 standardized and mandated curriculum is not free from bias, neutral, or apolitical; it is Eurocentric, often conservative, and marginalizes students of color.
A race-conscious ethnic studies curriculum does not detract from academics; on the contrary, particularly for students of color, who are now the majority of U.S. K-12 students, it increases learning, retention, and graduation.
None of this should be surprising: children and youth bring to school their ongoing experiences with racism, and many welcome curricula that help them name and make sense of those experiences. It is unfortunate that anti-ethnic studies and implicitly racist interests have been allowed to influence parts of California’s ethnic studies model curriculum, in its current iteration.
CARE-ED, an alliance of higher education scholars from across the state of CA urges the state to take four important steps:
- Retain and expand the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum section on “The Benefits of Ethnic Studies.”
- Ensure that decisions about ethnic studies centrally involve expert practitioners and scholars whose work centers in ethnic studies, including decisions about curricular frameworks and content and professional development and certification. We ask that the state bring the final SBE ESMC edits to a place strong and authentic enough that the original ESMC writers, advisory committee members, and Ethnic Studies expert practitioners and scholars can once again support.
- Provide sufficient financial and other resources and support for researchers to examine and document the impact of ethnic studies on K-12 students in California.
- Designate ethnic studies as a field for credentialing teachers, and provide sufficient financial and other resources and support for teacher-preparation pre-service programs and professional-development programs to offer pathways to Ethnic Studies teaching credentials and preparedness.
CARE-ED rejects the calls to deny or ignore the legacies and systems of racism that have long defined and shaped U.S. schools and society and that continue to do so. Our job is to teach toward democracy by teaching the truth, being unapologetically anti-racist (rather than “neutral and balanced” in this regard), and we proudly work collectively and in solidarity with the communities most impacted by injustice to do so.
CARE-ED is a statewide collaborative of education researchers that aims to speak collectively and publicly and in solidarity with organizations and communities to reframe the debate on education. https://www.care-ed.org/
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