Implement an Ethnic Studies Program at your school in SUHSD.

SUHSD Principals

Ethnic Studies is the study of African American, Asian American, Mexican American, Native American, and Arab American history. Implementing a course such as Ethnic Studies will allow students to engage in culturally relevant pedagogy that will not only be utilized in real life situations, but will also be an important asset in understanding the narrative of marginalized groups that have been heavily impacted by oppression in American society.

Through this elective, students and educators alike will engage in conversations and lessons that recognize the restrictions of a Eurocentric narrative in traditional history classes and will be able to evaluate how important issues, such as racism, affect individuals in society to this day. By recognizing these struggles, students will be able to cultivate a sense of ethnic pride, educators will be able to create a dynamic, inspiring, and empowering learning environment, and the history of people of color will be rightfully told through a narrative that does not center on their oppression.

By signing this petition, you are advocating for the opportunity to vocalize and amplify the history of marginalized groups in society. This petition will be sent to administrators in the Sweetwater Union High School District in order to emphasize the urgency of implementing an Ethnic Studies program. Thank you for your solidarity and support.

Petition by
Desiree Dhawn Adamos
Chula Vista, California

To: SUHSD Principals
From: [Your Name]

A student’s journey throughout highschool is not only based upon the rigor of their coursework or desire to excel academically. Every teenager in high school goes through life changing experiences that will shape who they are, which is not only limited to their academic intelligence, but includes their empathy, morals, and outlook on life. Therefore, it is important for students and educators alike to understand the importance of a course such as Ethnic Studies, which is designed to help students excel academically, battle the stereotypes and restrictions of Eurocentric courses in the United States education system, and evaluate how systemic racism affects people of color to this day.

Multiple research studies provide the fact that implementing an Ethnic Studies course will help students academically. According to the Stanford study, “The Casual Effects of Cultural Relevance, Evidence from an Ethnic Studies Curriculum,” authors Thomas Dee and Emily Penner examine the effects of Ethic Studies on high school students in San Francisco. Their study focused on individuals who were mostly at risk of dropping out, based on their grades and attendance. Through numerous amounts of data, it has been proven that an Ethnic Studies course effectively increases GPA, attendance, and the amount of credits that a student earns. Dee and Penner came to the conclusion that since minority groups, especially Black and Hispanic students, are overrepresented as students who drop out or fail to stay in school, this stereotype discourages them from reaching their educational potential. However, the introduction of culturally relevant pedagogy encouraged students to feel more prideful in their ethnicity, which thus cultivated a sense of belonging. Because students started to feel more comfortable in their school environment, they began to improve their academic performance.

Topics and discussions in Ethnic Studies, especially the history of marginalized groups, are highly relevant to this day; the pasts of African American, Mexican American, Asian American, Arab American, and indigenous peoples can no longer be suppressed and ignored. According to the research review, “The Academic and Social Value of Ethnic Studies,” author Christine E. Sleeter elaborates on a study that shows that the social studies framework for Californian schools discuss on average 99 americans; 76% of whom are white, 18% of whom who are African American, 4% of whom are Native American, 1% of whom are Mexican American, and 0% of whom who are Asian American. A recurring pattern in textbooks that portray marginalized groups in America is that the history of racism, oppression, annexation, and mistreatment of these marginalized groups were often buried within the narrative of thriving American progress. However, burying the narratives of marginalized groups in society infers that the identity and history of these people are unimportant. In turn, introducing a curriculum that students can relate to can reinforce ethnic pride, while giving other students, especially European American individuals, the opportunity to learn how to be culturally sensitive.

This idea of implementing an Ethnic Studies program into school curriculum is not new to Californians, even Chula Vista. According to the San Diego Tribune article, “”Chula Vista Girl Scout Wins Highest National Award,” a former student named Ana De Almeida Amaral successfully established an Ethnic Studies course at her high school. She felt that the dominantly Hispanic and Filipino community that she resided in needed more representation than from school clubs and events, and therefore she organized a group of students who worked diligently to implement an Ethnic Studies program. Authors Deborah Sullivan Brennan and Diane Bell claim that Ana’s biggest obstacle was convincing school administrators to implement this policy; a recurring theme with other Ethnic Studies activists across the state. Journalist Ismary Linares vocalizes that a dominant and constant pattern in educational systems is that “color doesn't matter.” Ignoring the fact that race and one’s ethnical identity plays a prominent role in how they perceive the role is counterproductive in schools, as it enforces an idea that oppression throughout history should be ignored for the sake of “school unity.” Ethnic Studies is more than teaching students about history inside the classroom -- it is about teaching students about history that directly affects them outside of a classroom environment as well. Although Ethnic Studies can be perceived as controversial, nonacademic, or as a sensitive issue to many school districts, countless examples have shown that implementing an Ethnic Studies program has cultivated a sense of belonging amongst students of color. Educator Ron Espiritu discusses the importance of Ethnic Studies in his Ted Talk, “Why Ethnic Studies Matters.” He explains that teaching students about the oppression of their ancestors, and how their ancestors diligently overcame oppression, encourages these students to become active in their community because they are more likely to “put what they learn into practice.” Allowing students to develop their cultural and individual identities is not only empowering and liberating, but also informative enough for students to actively practice critical thinking skills when it comes to current world events.

The world is changing, and people should have the moral obligation to change with it. That’s why the study of different races, genders, sexualities, and other forms of identity and how this affects marginalized communities socially, politically, and economically offers a perspective on how inequalities and abused power can affect society, and even our own students. Teaching on the idea that racism motivates political, social, and economic forces in today’s society enables students to educate themselves and connect with the history of various ethnicities.