Ethnic studies curriculum gets pushback from some groups

Honorable mention, news writing

A proposed ethnic studies curriculum for California students has received backlash from top state education leaders over omissive representations of certain ethnic groups.

In July, the Jewish legislative caucus sent a letter to the state Department of Education criticizing the representation of the Jewish culture and misrepresenting the contributions of the Jewish people.

The new draft will include history of anti-Semitism rather than disclosing it entirely. The state department of education feels that it is important to allow minority groups to have a chance to reflect their histories.

Signed in 2016, the bill was designed to create a curriculum with a purpose to serve the schools as a teaching guideline, not as a teaching requirement. In June, the state Department of Education posted the draft online and opened it for public feedback.

The draft has received over 5,000 responses and is currently undergoing revisions to make the curriculum more inclusive and less narrowly drawn.

“Rio should strive to be as inclusive as it possibly can be and having a class that focuses equally on different cultures is a crucial step in accomplishing that,” said senior Miri Lederman. “For the most part, I feel support and acceptance from my school, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone.”

This new curriculum is designed to eradicate hate throughout schools and to educate students about the importance of diversity.

“I feel that there are stereotypes that go with my religion that I’ve seen perpetrated by students. Listening and learning to every kind of person is the only way to ensure that everyone is being treated equally,” said Lederman.

The state board has until March 31 to revise the curriculum to be implemented by fall of 2020. According to the California Department of Education, the push to make ethnic studies a graduation requirement for California high schools and the Cal State system would affect over 6.5 million people.

This new curriculum would make California the first state to require an ethnic studies course as a graduation requirement.

“I think it’s a great idea to have an ethnic studies class,” said junior Kara Catelliar. “It would benefit Rio in the same way it would any school by helping the student because they would be more informed about cultures, and as a result it would create a better understanding about the rest of the world.”

With a growing diverse population, implementing this program could help students to understand the various racial and ethnic groups in their community while learning about respect and tolerance.