AP Photo / Don Thompson
Sen. Ben Allen of Santa Monica, chairman of the Legislative Jewish Caucus, center, speaks beside State Superintendent Tony Thurmond at a news conference in Sacramento in August 2019.

In a preview of what it will recommend this spring, the California Department of Education is siding with ethnic studies advocates who argue that courses should focus on four ethnic and racial groups whose histories have been largely overlooked in the high school curriculum: African Americans, Asian Americans, Chicanos and Latinos, and Native Americans.

Ethnic studies examines the social justice struggles and the political and historical forces affecting racial, ethnic and religious groups. Who should be the subject of ethnic studies was one of several controversial issues that derailed a draft last fall of a model high school ethnic studies curriculum that the Legislature ordered the State Board of Education to adopt.

Some ethnic and religious groups had criticized the first draft of more than 500 pages, written by a panel of high school ethnic studies teachers and university experts, for excluding their stories and struggles in America. Jewish leaders criticized the omission of anti-Semitism in the draft and what they characterized as a one-sided view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the section on Arab American ethnic studies.

Later this spring, the education department will present its revision to an advisory committee of the state board for further editing. The revised version will go to the state board for final adoption by March 2021.

In an , Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond agreed with activists who argued that ethnic studies courses fill a vacuum. What’s taught in schools hasn’t done enough to highlight “the contributions of people of color and has actually minimized the importance of their role,” Thurmond wrote. “Therefore, our recommendations will acknowledge and honor the four foundational groups” that are the core of ethnic studies.

Elaborating during a press conference last week, Thurmond said that there are opportunities in classes besides ethnic studies to discuss the full American experience. “Sometimes, people think when you福彩app是正规的吗 create a curriculum, it’s like the only game in town — and it’s not,” he said. “We owe it to those who founded the ethnic studies movement to kind of keep a sense of fidelity there.” But the department “will be leading conversations statewide about how we address hate, acts of violence. How we promote the beauty of the diversity of what our students represent in this state.”

Thurmond said that he met with Jewish leaders about expanding “efforts around teaching tolerance and using education” to counter “the kinds of awful acts of anti-Semitism that we have seen in recent times.”

What’s unclear is whether the experiences and past discrimination against ethnic groups that have been assimilated — the Irish, Polish, French Canadians and Jews — will be included to provide context to an ethnic studies course. In an email, a spokesperson said only that the department is months from completing the model curriculum.

In , an advisory group charged with drafting the curriculum, the state board offered general principles, including to “encourage cultural understanding of how different groups have struggled and worked together, highlighting core ethnic studies concepts such as equality, justice, race and ethnicity.”

Last fall Assemblyman José Medina, D-Riverside, called for an inclusive ethnic studies curriculum that included European immigration. But in an interview with EdSource last week, Medina said he was satisfied that Thurmond had provided “clarity” in focusing on the four traditional ethnic studies groups.

Medina, whose former wife is Jewish and whose children were raised as Jews, has the distinction of belonging to the Legislative Jewish Caucus and the Legislative Latino Caucus. He also taught a general ethnic studies course and Chicano studies for three decades at Riverside Unified.

In his own ethnic studies classes, Medina said, he gave examples of how Jewish experiences can be interwoven in the curriculum. But he said he didn’t support requiring these types of comparisons in the curriculum.

Last year, amid the controversy over the draft curriculum, Medina withdrew , which would require all high school students to take a semester of ethnic studies. He said he would move ahead with the bill this year.

In 2017-18, according to a legislative analysis of Medina’s bill, 17,354 students — about double the number from two years before — took ethnic studies in 943 courses in 555 schools. Sixty percent of the courses satisfied the A-G requirements for admission to the University of California or California State University.

With interest rising, a model curriculum would provide teachers, particularly those unfamiliar with the subject, with guidelines and resources they could use if they choose. Ethnic studies teachers say that ethnic studies is effective in engaging black and Latino students. They point to a 2017 that found “surprisingly large” increases in grade point averages and school attendance for “at-risk” students who were assigned an ethnic studies course.

Disagreements over content and terms

The draft curriculum generated 20,000 comments for and against, according to the education department. Which groups should be the focus of a course was just one issue. The debate over the proposed content was contentious.

Critics charged that the draft curriculum had an activist agenda and a left-wing bias in the language it uses and in a 22-page glossary. Ethnic studies, the curriculum introduction read, “critically grapples with the various power structures and forms of oppression, including but not limited to white supremacy, race and racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia and xenophobia, that continue to impact the social, emotional, cultural, economic and political experiences of Native People/s and people of color.”

The department took down the draft of the model curriculum after the public comment period ended last August. However, you福彩app是正规的吗 can find the proposed introduction , the glossary and the full document .

Linda Darling-Hammond, the chairwoman of the state board, agreed with some of the criticisms last fall when she called for more time for a rewrite of the draft. “A model curriculum should be accurate, free of bias, appropriate for all learners in our diverse state and align with Governor Newsom’s vision of a California for all,” she wrote in a  last August co-signed by board members Ilene Straus and Feliza Ortiz-Licon. “The current draft model curriculum falls short and needs to be substantially redesigned.”

Since last fall, the drafters of the curriculum have organized a large Coalition supported by more than 100 ethnic advocacy and social justice organizations, university and school ethnic studies groups, the California Teachers Association and the Asian & Pacific Islander, Black and Latino legislative caucuses. In a document last month, the coalition demanded that the department and the state board “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.”

“Groups with little to no experience in the discipline have waged an aggressive lobbying campaign” that could undermine the work of expert practitioners, the statement said.

In emails over the past week, R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, a teacher in Los Angeles Unified who co-chaired the 19-member committee that created the draft curriculum, said, “We also understand this is a political process and project, as all curriculum is. Thus, we are here to help consensus building and, if necessary, negotiations, with and between all reasonable stakeholders.”

The draft curriculum, he said, should be reconciled with the state board’s guidelines but not compromised. And the academic language of ethnic studies, which critics have dismissed as jargon, is essential.

“If the expertise of leading Ethnic Studies educators is marginalized or ignored in deciding what the model curriculum needs to be to retain its transformative potential, then it is likely self-sabotaging it, setting it up for failure, as has been done for students of color for far too long, and that would be tragic.”

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  1. 23 hours ago23 hours ago

    Only a little more than one quarter of African American Students in California meet or exceed Mathematics Standards on the 2019 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). Similar results can be found for other students of color. Tony Thurmond and the rest of the K-12 education organized crime network like to signal their cultural virtuosity by engaging in ethnic studies curriculum projects rather than doing the necessary work of transforming the … Read More

    Only a little more than one quarter of African American Students in California meet or exceed Mathematics Standards on the 2019 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). Similar results can be found for other students of color. Tony Thurmond and the rest of the K-12 education organized crime network like to signal their cultural virtuosity by engaging in ethnic studies curriculum projects rather than doing the necessary work of transforming the K-12 education system so that it can assure that all students including students of color achieve academic success!

    The revised ethnic studies curriculum should help students better understand how the K-12 Education system that they currently experience is racist and actively denies them a quality education. A chapter on the abysmal student achievement data and how to interpret it might be helpful. Maybe they can learn how cowardly educational leaders sanctimoniously espouse equity but act quite differently by assigning the least qualified teachers and wannabee Teach for America Charity workers to students of color while reserving the most qualified teachers for the White children.

    A chapter should be include on how the K-12 system continues to promote zombie educational practices such as the disproportionate suspension of African American males for make believe disciplinary offenses like “Defiance.”. There are so many opportunities to begin to awaken the children to the active racism within their midst! Unfortunately, the system will not incorporate the real racism students experience into the curriculum as that might offend the White power structure that maintains the racist structures within the current U.S. educational systems.

    How refreshing it would be to engage our students in learning and applying the powerful actions that were taught to us by great Civil Rights Leaders like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Students should learn how to march for their rights, actively address school boards to demand equity in teacher assignments. They should learn the current techniques including the use of social media campaigns being used by Woke students like David Hoag who advocate for gun control and climate change and apply those techniques to educational transformation.

    Of course the K-12 system is way too cowardly to make these ethnic studies class real for students. Presenting a sanitized and saintly version of Ethnic Studies will suffice, thank you福彩app是正规的吗!

    Si se puede!