A A curriculum consultant hired by a California school district will provide professional development training that includes guidance for white teachers on how to teach ethnic studies, underscoring a national trend of racialized curricula in public schools.
The Napa Valley Unified School District is contributing more than $38,000 to the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium to train its teachers on how to teach ethnic studies courses, which high school students must take to graduate, in accordance with state law.
According to documents obtained by the parent activist organization Parents Defending Education, the training materials include a class session titled “White Teachers and White Students in Ethnic Studies” and another titled “Ethnic Studies for White Teachers.”
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During the sessions, teachers will be trained on “how white teachers can engage in the work and teaching of ethnic studies through understanding and reflecting on their privilege, power and position.”
The Napa School District said the contractual partnership with the counseling organization was “essential to designing a high-quality ethnic studies course, developing teaching resources, and training staff.”
“The proposed partnership would bring in content and pedagogy experts in the field of ethnic studies to support the development of curriculum models that include lesson plans/units on Chicanx/Latinx, American Indian/Native American, African American/Black Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Arab Americans,” the district wrote in an internal document.
Ethnic studies classes in public schools have drawn considerable attention amid a nationwide popular reaction to critical race theory in public school classrooms.
Critical race theory says that American institutions and culture are systematically racist and oppressive toward racial minorities, and aspects of the theory have been found to be embedded in public school classrooms such as ethnic studies in school districts from the country.
On its website, Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium states that its goal is “to promote the advancement and implementation of well-designed ethnic studies courses and programs with the aim of enhancing student academic achievement, educational equity, community scholarships and community leadership skills”. .”
Among the documents available for review on its website is a 60-second video that says a parent who expects their child to get a good education is a beneficiary of white privilege.
In a document obtained by Parents Defending Education, the consortium outlines seven “guiding values, principles and outcomes” for teaching ethnic studies.
One of the aims is to “center and place high value on pre-colonial, ancestral, indigenous, diasporic, familial and marginalized knowledge”, while another asserts that ethnic studies should “critique the empire, the supremacy anti-blackness, anti-indigenousness, racism, xenophobia, patriarchy, cisteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society.”
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Rhyen Staley, a researcher for Parents Defending Education, said it was a “major red flag” if a program “required special training for white teachers and students.”
“Liberated Ethnic Studies requires students to become trained activists to ‘end oppression.’ Ethnic Studies should allow students to learn and appreciate the history of other cultures, but should not be used simultaneously to denigrate the United States and Western civilization,” Staley said.