Why Ethnic Studies?
We, the undersigned, support the effort to construct and implement an ethnic studies class as a high school graduation requirement in the Sacramento City Unified School District.
Sacramento, CA is the 2nd most ethnically diverse city in the United States (US Census Bureau, 2015). Our school district is a beautiful mirror of our population; our students are 37% Hispanic or Latino, 17.4% Asian, 18% African American, 19% white, and 5.3% of students are two or more ethnicities. In our district, residents speak over 44 languages and 38% do not speak English at home (SCUSD, 2015).
We need a high school curriculum that reflects the diversity of all students. Despite our numbers, only 1 out of 13 high schools within our district offers ethnic studies. Because over 80% of our school district populations are students of color, we need to offer a course that includes and investigates these rich histories and lived experiences.
By having an ethnic studies course, our hope is that all students will learn to respect, accept, and love themselves. We want all students to think critically about the importance of their race, ethnicity, location, and identity as it exists in history and in the present. We believe that ethnic studies courses can offer important narratives that are missing from the euro-centric lens that history is often shown through. We want to empower our students to learn more about themselves and their communities, build empathy and unity with other ethnic groups, and push for social justice.
I support AB 101 (Alejo) which would require school districts to provide students with a statewide, approved A-G, ethnic studies curriculum.
California has one of the largest and most diverse student populations in the nation. Ethnic minorities account for over 71 percent of the student population, with more than 90 languages spoken in District schools.
Given California’s annual increase in diversity, it is especially important that students build knowledge of the various racial and ethnic groups in our state. Incorporating ethnic studies courses into standard high school curriculum is a means to accomplish this. In doing so, students gain an encompassed outlook on other cultures while learning respect and tolerance. Additionally, it provides students with the opportunity to learn about their respective culture in the context of California’s history.
Developing ethnic studies programs in public high schools is an integral part of cultivating a classroom environment that is accepting of diverse cultures. It is vital for young people to learn about their history, but also important for them to feel like they can change their communities in positive ways. This bill will help close the achievement gap by reducing student truancy, increasing student enrollment, reduce drop-out rates, and better prepare Californian youth to be college prepared and career ready.