by Duane Campbell
On Tuesday, the LAUSD board voted to require courses to offer ethnic studies classes at all of the district high schools. A few courses had already been offered, but this provides a substantial increase in offering.
San Francisco Unified will consider a similar decision at their December meeting.
Children and young adults need to see themselves in the curriculum. Students, particularly students of color, have low levels of attachment to California and U.S. civil society messages in significant part because the government institution they encounter the most- the schools- ignore the students own history, cultures and experiences.
A fundamental way to engage students in civic culture is to engage them in their own schools and communities. That is where the students most encounter civic opportunities.
When the 51 % of the California students who are Latino , and the 9 % who are Asian do not see themselves as part of history, for many their sense of self is marginalized. Marginalization negatively impacts their connections with school and their success at school. It contributes to an up to 50% drop out rate for Latinos and some Asian students. A more accurate, more complete history provided in Ethnic studies courses would provide some students with a a sense of self, of direction, of purpose, even a sense that they should stay in school and learn more. And, ethnic studies would provide Anglo students with an informed, accurate history of the political and cultural development of our society. Ethnic studies classes should help young people acquire and learn to use the civics skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives.
Add their history to the textbooks. Add their literature to the literature books. Include all students in Ethnic Studies classes. These students are are California’s children. You can start by revising the California History/ Social Science Framework to include their history.