Saturday, April 19, 2014

Alejo bill moves California toward offering Ethnic Studies

by Roque Planas
A bill introduced last month by California Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) would require the state's Department of Education to develop a model for implementing a standardized, statewide ethnic studies curriculum for high schools.
Although controversies over Mexican-American studies have roiled conservatives in Southwestern states, Alejo's bill could put California on the path to adopting one of the most ambitious ethnic studies program for public schools in the country.
Latinos are the largest ethnic group in California schools by far, making up 53 percent of the student body, according to the California Department of Education. They are followed by non-Hispanic whites, at 26 percent, and Asians, at 9 percent.
But though people of color make up the solid majority of California's schools, ethnic studies proponents say their history and culture remain largely absent from classrooms and textbooks.
"We have probably one of the most diverse student populations in the country," Alejo told The Huffington Post. "We recognize those unique values and history, language and literatures -- all of that should be included in California’s high school curriculum."
See the well researched article here.  
This is an important step in the direction urged by the Mexican American Digital History Project for years. 
For an account of the current status of Mexican American/ Chicano Studies in California see
"What most Americans might not realize is that the fate of everyone's education and everyone's freedom of speech is on the line,” Tony Diaz, a co-founder of the pro-ethnic studies movement Librotraficante, told HuffPost in an email. "Although Anglos might not feel the sting of discrimination inherent in these attacks on ethnic studies, this is also an attempt to turn colleges and high schools into finishing schools for corporations."
Activists in Texas have yet to convince the head of the SBOE, Barbara Cargill, who says the issue should be left to individual schools to implement...
Rodolfo Acuña, a professor of Chicano studies at California State University Northridge and author of one of the discipline's classic texts, Occupied America, said he doesn't anticipate much opposition to the idea in California, but remained skeptical that it would garner widespread support. Over the course of his career, Acuña says he's worked on at least a dozen attempts to extend ethnic studies to public schools, but lack of support from legislators condemned those efforts to failure.
..."I think knowledge is good and it doesn't have any borders," Acuña said. "But I also think that when you have 53 million Latinos in the United States and they're one of the largest blocs of Spanish-speaking people in the whole world, it's stupid not to know anything about us."

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