A third draft California Ethnic Studies curriculum was released last month. Despite a third attempt, the latest version remains far from its legal objective to ?? highlight the contributions of minorities in the development of California and the United States ?? and help students become global citizens by appreciating the contributions of multiple cultures.
The first draft, published in 2019, was identified by many as a confrontational political indoctrination of students and was rejected following huge criticism, including harsh criticism from students. Los Angeles Times and Washington post.
The second draft was also rejected. A letter signed by 80 groups, ranging from Black Americans for Inclusive Ethnic Studies to the California Association of Scholars, stated the following:
We are deeply concerned that the classes taught using this program will become vehicles for highly controversial one-sided advocacy and political activism that will both overturn the educational mission of our schools and incite bigotry and sectarianism. harm many students. ??
And the third draft? Better than the first two, but it falls short of providing advice on what students should learn about the wonderfully diverse world we share and how we can build a meritocratic society where everyone has the opportunity to be successful.
The reason it fails to do so is that this positive agenda is not the focus of the curriculum. And that is why neither the first draft, nor the first repeat, nor the second repeat is acceptable. One is tempted to conclude that the strategy is to implement the minimum changes necessary to gain membership, while preserving the “critical ethnic studies” agenda.
Critical Ethnic Studies, which is related to Critical Race Theory, is a branch of ethnic studies that focuses on white supremacy, slavery, racism, colonialism and victimization, with the belief that these questions are the main drivers of many of our social problems. , and this theme permeates the current version of the curriculum.
The program’s emphasis on Critical Ethnic Studies prevented the creation of what could be a rich and rewarding program celebrating the legacies and histories of all, and which could have facilitated the academic paths of under-represented minorities within of the state school system.
Perhaps the most important rationale for requiring ethnic studies is that minority students benefit enormously from learning role models from their ethnic origins. While the third iteration of the program offers such lessons, there are glaring omissions of those that could inspire new generations of Californians, regardless of their color.
Martin Luther King is a notable omission from the African American list. One person supplanting King on the list is Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former member of the Black Panthers who is serving a life sentence for the first degree murder of a police officer who arrested Abu-Jamal’s brother. . His incarceration has become a notorious cause in liberal political circles, despite testimony from three eyewitnesses and ballistic evidence to support his conviction.
What about models of black women? Katherine Johnson is omitted. Johnson was a brilliant NASA mathematician who was part of an otherwise all-male research team that calculated the orbit for the years 1969. Apollo 11 vol. The film Hidden numbers was inspired by her. Imagine how her story could motivate girls to embrace the fields of math and science.
Assata Shakur, an African-American activist from the 1960s who was convicted of murder in a shootout with police, and who escaped from prison and fled to Cuba where she was granted political asylum , is included.
A similar pattern of omissions and inclusions emerges for Native Americans. There is no mention of the code speakers ?? a group from the Navajo tribe who created an unbreakable code that helped the United States win World War II. The inclusion of code speakers would celebrate the important contributions of Native Americans and underscore the uniqueness of the Navajo language.
Just think of the number of kids who might be inspired to study the process of language and learning if they learned code speakers. Or think of former US Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, the most recent of four Native Americans to ever serve in the US Senate. He is also missing from the list.
Who moves them? One is Dennis Banks, a Native American activist who was convicted of inciting riot and assault, and who received an Air Force court martial.
The agenda is clear. Point out the possibly unwarranted incarcerations of political activists by a white-dominated justice system, and omit heroes whose policies fail to tick the boxes required by critical ethnic studies, even such notable individuals as Martin Luther King.
Another problematic issue in the curriculum is not using facts and instead relying on stories that may or may not have a factual basis. Dealing with facts and data in an organized way is central to a child’s education, especially today when understanding technical information and math is so important. This training for logical thinking and critical thinking is lacking.
Take the issue of abusive incarceration. There have been 375 DNA exemptions in the United States, and 60 percent of them were African Americans.
This unique statistic establishes that African Americans have been disproportionately affected by wrongful incarceration. But a statistic does not win the hearts and minds of young people. So instead of using facts, critical ethnic studies entice students with intriguing stories about potentially wrongful convictions which may have no factual basis.
Telling the story of Mumia Abu-Jamal (who was the subject of a film) is more compelling than a statistic, even if the statistic is infinitely more informative about wrongful convictions of African Americans. And because of its media coverage, the story of Abu-Jamal, despite the lack of evidence that anyone else committed the crime, is apparently more convincing than that of Curtis Flowers, a black man whose murder conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court but whose case did not attract nearly the same level of notoriety.
One of the characteristics of immigration to the United States is that most immigrants succeed economically at a much higher level than they might have achieved in their country of origin. But this fundamental aspect of ethnicity in the United States is largely absent from the school curriculum. Consider the Southeast Asian Hmong people who came to the United States as refugees in the 1970s and 1980s from a way of life that had changed little for hundreds of years, and who spoke one language. ancient composed mainly of one-syllable words.
The proposed curriculum addresses the Hmong with an emphasis on patriarchy and gender roles within Hmong society, and the in-depth discussion of racial injustice:
The criminalization of men and boys of color goes hand in hand with the decriminalization of white men. As a result, white crime is less controlled, monitored and punished, while black, Latin American and South Asian crime is treated as a threat and must be punished.
What is curiously omitted is the miraculous improvement in the standard of living of the Hmongs. In 1990, only 24 percent of the Hmong were employed, up from 56 percent in 2010. During this same period, the median household income of the Hmong increased from 47 percent of the national average to 92 percent, and the percentage of Hmong receiving public assistance has increased from 67 percent to 12 percent. All of this in just 20 years and accomplished by an ethnic group who, before coming to America, lived largely as they did two hundred years ago.
This transformation could only happen in the free and capitalist United States. Yet students will read about the Hmong as they are portrayed in this program and have no idea how they achieved the American Dream, and so quickly. That’s a shame. But that’s what can happen when the facts don’t match the desired narrative.
But all is not lost. Enter the Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Studies, a group of thousands of Californians, including educators, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Armenians and refugees from communist countries who are working to help create an inclusive and positive ethnic studies curriculum without a political agenda , which will help children to learn and think independently.
On their website, you’ll hear Clarence Jones, one of Martin Luther King’s legal advisers, who describes how the third version of the program is a perversion of history that will do great harm to students in our state. ?? You will hear from Mark Yudof, president emeritus of the University of California, who is concerned that the program does not invite diverse points of view and does not promote engagement through the democratic process.
Most importantly, you’ll see how the alliance has made tremendous strides in advancing how the curriculum can be changed based on the Los Angeles Unified School District Ethnic Studies curriculum, which does not focus on critical ethnic studies or critical race theory. The alliance provides a model of what to do to design a positive and constructive ethnic studies program.
The comment period on the State’s third draft remains open for two more days. I urge you to write and make your voice heard. You can provide feedback on the proposed program by writing to the California Department of Education at [email protected], or you can sign the Alliance Declaration here.
The main objective of any society is to organize itself to promote freedom, peace and equal treatment. This is exactly what the Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Studies does. And California students will be much better off if Governor Newsom, state lawmakers and the Department of Education listen to the Alliance.