Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Support AB 1750- Ethnic Studies in Schools

Re: Support AB 1750 (Alejo)
Dear Assemblyman Alejo:
As Director of the Democracy and Education Institute, I write in support of AB 1750 –Ethnic Studies, and to offer assistance in this work.
Given California’s increasing diversity, it is vitally important that students receive knowledge of the various ethnic groups in our state and that they learn to work together toward building our democracy.
The Democracy and Education Institute has been working on this issue since 2009, and I have been working on the issue since 1986.
As a part of the effort to include Ethnic Studies I encourage you to concentrate on expanding  Ethnic Studies in the History/Social Science Framework for California public schools.  This state document determines what is taught in our schools and what is included in the textbooks.  There is almost no Mexican American history in the document.  There is a 9th grade elective course that could be offered.  Your bill should assist in that the CDE should report on the number and the nature of Ethnic Studies offerings.

The current Framework was written in 1986 and published in 1987 after a great deal of controversy. The Framework is  supposed to be revised each 7 years. The Framework, along with the standards, provides the guidelines for what is to be taught and what is to be included in the history and social science textbooks in California. In 2009, the History /Social Science Framework was  up for re consideration but the process was halted by the budget crisis.
The 1987 History  Framework still in use  in our schools today  expanded African American, Native American, and women’s history coverage but remains totally inadequate in the coverage of Latinos and Asians. The only significant change between the 1985 and the 2005 adopted Framework was the addition of a new cover, a cover letter, and additions of photos such as of Cesar Chavez .  As you know descendants of Latinos currently make up 50.1 percent of  students in California schools.
During  the winter and spring of 2009, a committee of educators appointed by the State Board of Education met in staffed working sessions to review the current History-Social Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria and to recommend revisions to the document. The committee met in a series of two-day public sessions which were well attended by professionals and civic advocates concerned about the content of  history and social studies education in California.  I and others gave testimony.  My own effort, and that of my colleagues, was to focus on the failure of the current framework to adequately describe the history and contributions of the Mexican American people to California history.
The state fiscal crisis of 2009 stopped all work on this revision.  Your bill AB 1750 should assist in re-opening  the discussion.
I can tell you that the Curriculum Framework Committee listens when legislators make suggestion.
 Based upon my own experience of following this issue for decades, I am concerned that you bill as amended only asks the State Department of Education to commission a report on model programs and standards.  For your information, the SDE frequently creates committees that lack substantive diversity and particularly expertise in ethnic studies.
The 2009 review committee, which performed in a professional manner, had a total of two Hispanics on a committee of 22.  It was clear that they did not invite well informed members.  However, they did listen and make positive recommendations.
It is particularly important to act on ethnic studies before new national common core standards are adopted, predicted for 2016.   Common core standards have been established in Math and Literacy and are producing major changes in curriculum textbooks and teaching in California.  There are no  (national) Common Core standards in History or Social Studies at this time.
The process for developing common core standards has been to look at existing standards in the states and adopt one’s state’s work or to integrate several states. 
History standards in Texas, Arizona, and California, among others, lack the inclusion of even the most minimal history of Mexican American people.  When the profession gets around to writing Common Core Standards in History and Social Studies, if they turn to our state standards, unless we amend these standards, we can anticipate that they will adopt the current standards that fail to include Mexican American history.  Adoption of such standards would put in place starkly inadequate standards for the nation for the next decade.
I served as a professor of Bilingual/Multicultural Education at CSU-Sacramento for over 35 years.  I have written and published curriculum.  I would be pleased to work with your office in developing plans for advancing your bill AB 1750. For example, we  could recruit articulate local teachers to testify for the bill.
Please let me know if I can be of assistance.
Dr. Duane E. Campbell
Democracy and Education Institute
Write your Assembly person or Senator today. http://assembly.ca.gov/assemblymembers

No comments: