San Francisco’s school board president wants high school students to take a course that examines ethnic identity, race-based systems of oppression and the emphasis on Euro-centric history in traditional textbooks.
Not everyone agrees that’s a good idea. Critics see ethnic studies as racially divisive. Another concern is that hiring and training new teachers is a potentially expensive proposition. And adding a new class means subtracting one from students’ schedules.
“Do you need to take five AP courses? Or could you take four and take ethnic studies instead?” she asked and noted that the ethnic studies classes now in district high schools count toward the elective course requirement needed to get into the UC or CSU systems.
Fewer and ethnic studies supporters believe the course offers students, especially students of color, a unique perspective on who they are, where they come from and what their place is in a racially charged society.
Often, their histories are “under-narrated” in their classes, said Patrick Camangian, an associate professor of teacher education at the University of San Francisco.
In other words, the historical account of African Americans, Latinos, Asians or other ethnicities is often relegated to minor roles or side notes in public schools and teaching materials.
“Ethnic studies to me is sort of a way of life that can allow teachers to more effectively connect to students who don’t see themselves as part of the standard curriculum,” Camangian said. “It provides them an education that is in their own image, maybe in their own interest.” [via @sfchronicle]