More Changes Proposed for California’s Ethnic Studies Curriculum to Strengthen ‘Balance’

The California Department of Education is recommending dozens of wording changes and additional lesson plans about Pacific Islander, Japanese and Korean Americans and other ethnic groups to its proposed model ethnic studies curriculum. The revisions respond to criticisms that the document, which is undergoing its third revision, is too polemical in presenting racial struggles and omits the achievements and history of various ethnic and religious groups.

The latest changes, released Friday, will go before the Instructional Quality Commission, which will amend the draft curriculum at its meeting Nov. 18-19 (see Item 8 on the agenda). The commission advises the State Board of Education, which by law must adopt the curriculum framework by March 31, 2021.

In announcing the revisions at a press conference Friday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said that the new lesson plans and resources, covering more ethnic groups, “reflect California’s diversity” while maintaining a commitment to focus on four ethnic and racial groups. Those are Latino Americans, Black Americans, Native Americans and Asian Americans that traditionally have been covered in college ethnic studies courses.

“We believe that we have found a way to create a kind of balance of honoring with fidelity what core ethnic studies is, but also creating a bridge to talk about interconnectivity of other groups whose stories need to be told,” Thurmond said.

The revisions contain additions that emphasize ethnic studies should promote critical thinking, vigorous discussion and contrasting points of view. For example, the introductory chapter on the goals, principles and outcomes of ethnic studies currently includes “critique empire-building in history and its relationship to white supremacy, racism and other forms of power and oppression.” The revisions would add several sections, including:

  • “Curriculum, resources and materials should include a balance of topics, authors and concepts, including primary and secondary sources that represent multiple, and sometimes opposing, points of view or perspectives.
  • “The instruction, material, or discussion must be appropriate to the age and maturity level of the students, and be a fair and balanced academic presentation of various points of view consistent with accepted standards of professional responsibility, rather than advocacy, personal opinion, bias or partisanship.”

In September, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed Assembly Bill 331, which would make a one-semester ethnic studies course a high school graduation requirement, starting with the graduating class of 2026. In his veto message, Newsom said he supported ethnic studies while citing unspecified problems in the draft curriculum.

Excerpted from “More Changes proposed for California’s Ethnic Studies Curriculum to Strengthen ‘Balance’” in EdSource. Read the full article.

Source: EdSource | More Changes proposed for California’s Ethnic Studies Curriculum to Strengthen ‘Balance’, | © 2020 EdSource

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