Parents! Are any of you still not checking to see what crap-for-brains Social Justice propaganda is being force fed your children in school?
Like growing numbers of public high school students across the country, many California kids are receiving classroom instruction in how race, class, gender, sexuality, and citizenship status are tools of oppression, power, and privilege. They are taught about colonialism, state violence, racism, intergenerational trauma, heteropatriarchy, and the common thread that links them: “whiteness.”
Students are then graded on how well they apply these concepts in writing assignments, performances, and community organizing projects.
At Santa Monica High School, for example, students organize and carry out “a systematized campaign” for social justice that can take the form of a protest, a leaflet, a workshop, play, or research project. They demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter by teaching about social justice to middle school students.
Students at Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale are assigned to write a “breakup letter with a form of oppression,” such as toxic masculinity, heteronormativity, the Eurocentric curriculum, or the Dakota Access Pipeline. Students are asked to “persuade their audience of the dehumanizing and damaging effects of their chosen topic.”
Students at schools in Anaheim, San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco are taught how to write a manifesto to school administrators listing “demands” for reforms.
Some conduct a grand jury investigation to determine who was responsible for the genocide of the state’s Native Americans. And one class holds a mock trial to determine which party is most responsible for the deaths of millions of native Tainos: Christopher Columbus, the soldiers, the king and queen of Spain, or the entire European system of colonialism.
These are just a few examples of the ethnic studies courses taught at 253 California schools, nearly 20% of the state’s high schools, according to 2017-18 data.
California is now looking at expanding this approach in a proposed statewide curriculum. The expansion could affect up to 1.7 million high school students if a second bill, making ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement, is approved.
The ethnic studies movement has been underway for years and is now poised to enter the mainstream, raising tough questions for educators and policymakers about how to present such material to teenagers. Teachers around the country are already offering ethnic studies classes, units, or lessons on their own initiative, citing a growing urgency to confront racism, sexism, homophobia, and other entrenched social inequalities.
Two years ago, the Indiana Legislature mandated that high schools offer an ethnic studies elective. As approved by the state’s Education Department, the class teaches about the contributions of ethnic and racial groups, various cultural practices, as well as such concepts as privilege, systematic oppression, and implicit bias. And now three states—California, Oregon, and Vermont—are trying to create authoritative statewide templates that, advocates hope, will make it easier for schools to adopt ethnic studies.
Advocates believe they are within striking distance of making ethnic studies a graduation requirement in high schools across the country, making it a prerequisite for preparing students to navigate the world, much as learning about the Western tradition had once been.
They say the shift to ethnic studies appears inevitable because of the nation’s changing demographics, the growing awareness of white supremacy and other forms of systemic discrimination, and a newfound political clout for the ethnic studies movement.
“We don’t want students to have the option not to take ethnic studies,” said Melina Abdullah, a professor of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles, and a board member of the national Association for Ethnic Studies. “It is as important as taking a lab science.”
But the spread of ethnic studies from college campuses to K-12 education is raising alarm among those who find the field one-sided, ideological, and frightening. They note, for example, that college students generally take such courses voluntarily, whereas as high schoolers and middle schoolers may not have a choice.
“It comes dangerously close to turning the American exceptionalism on its head: Yes, we’re exceptional—exceptionally evil,” said Will Swaim, president of the California Policy Center, a free market think tank. “It is remindful of reeducation camps in Vietnam or China. It is indoctrination rather than education.”
Advocates say that the field of ethnic studies has a special mission, distinct from other academic subjects.
“I oftentimes think of ethnic studies as radical social action,” said Julia Jordan-Zachery, a professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and president of the Association for Ethnic Studies.
“It is education and knowledge that’s produced to influence social change,” she said, “which makes it different in part from other types of disciplines whose primary concerns are quote-unquote to simply produce knowledge.”
Ethnic studies programs are already established at many of the nation’s universities and focus on the experiences of people of color: Blacks, Latinos (Hispanics, Chicanos), Native Americans, Asians, and Arabs/Muslims.
Expanding to the K-12 level is a bold step that has met with some resistance.