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Ethnic Studies as a high school graduation requirement requires a solid curriculum and educators who have knowledge of Ethnic Studies content, epistemologies, and pedagogy. As the implementation of Ethnic Studies in K-12 schools continues to move forward, colleges and universities are not prepared to graduate qualified teachers of Ethnic Studies. To this end, we will kickoff the first of a six-part webinar series with a line up of featured panelists that will discuss pertinent Policy Updates related to K-12 Ethnic Studies Implementation, including statewide Model Curriculum and ongoing struggles for Ethnic Studies on California Community College campuses. We will continue with a candid discussion on the Historical and Contemporary Connections between Ethnic Studies and Teacher Education that will ground the subsequent webinars with an overall goal of launching an Advocacy Plan to establish programs, projects, legislation, and partnerships focused on preparing future teachers of Ethnic Studies.
For over 50 years, students and faculty have advocated for Ethnic Studies, holding hunger strikes, rallies, and sit-ins. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the battle for Ethnic Studies was led primarily by high school and college students from throughout California. However, it was a coalition of educator activists that ultimately led to the establishment of Ethnic Studies in K-12 schools and higher education. An extension of this history is the ongoing resistance to Ethnic Studies courses across K-12, community college, and four-year CSU campuses. Adding to this context is the predominance of “whiteness” in the academy that brings to light concerns with generic social justice frameworks that dilute the racialized histories and struggles of communities of Color. To this end, webinar two will focus on the overarching theme of Myths and the Whitewashing of Ethnic Studies in K-12 education whereby (re)defining What is Ethnic Studies and whose histories, counter stories, literature, contemporary struggles and scholarship comprise the field. Panelists will discuss how Multiculturalism is not Ethnic Studies, address tensions related to legislating, adopting, and implementing a anti-racist, anti-hegemonic critical discipline, and barriers to teaching Ethnic Studies in K-12 Schools.
To implement a solid curriculum in Ethnic Studies in any K12 setting, we need educators who have knowledge of ethnic studies content, epistemologies, and pedagogy. The move to implement Ethnic Studies as a high school graduation requirement forces higher education to seriously consider the education and preparation of the next generation of Ethnic Studies teachers. The question of who will teach Ethnic Studies courses in California high schools remains a pertinent and looming topic that we will engage in this webinar. Moreover, this shift calls into question the historical culture of teacher education and its inclusion of Ethnic Studies, of lackthereof, when preparing future educators of Ethnic Studies. Panelists will discuss the role of collaborations across and within K-12 and higher education settings. Finally, panelists will shed light on how current teachers of Ethnic Studies navigate hegemonic power in K-12 settings and the importance of collective organizing and advocacy among Ethnic Studies educators.
The fight for Ethnic Studies is rooted in a longstanding history of struggle and resistance that includes community organizations and advocates outside of institutions of public and higher education. As California's evolving requirement for Ethnic Studies in K-12 schools unfolds, this deeply seeded connection to community must find expression in all forms of implementation. Moreover, any process of standardization should not diminish the role of community-based collaborations as pedagogy and praxis since these elements are crucial for cultivating the tenets of social and political awareness that remain integral to fluid definitions of Ethnic Studies.
In the wake of numerous K-12 school districts adopting required Ethnic Studies courses, higher education must consider it's responsibility to redesign teacher education and preparation. The task of ensuring California's students are provided teachers grounded both in Ethnic Studies and critical culturally responsive pedagogy is the task before us. At the present time, there is no certification or credential program dedicated to preparing teachers in Ethnic Studies, exclusively. The job of preparing undergraduate students has fallen on the few Ethnic Studies faculty who have fought to implement single subject programs. The many innovative projects to create undergraduate Ethnic Studies pathways into teaching have been blocked, diverted, or avoided. It is time to launch creative partnerships between colleges of education and ethnic studies departments and to link these programs to the communities and schools they serve. As unionists, activists, scholars and teacher educators, we maintain that our responsibility as scholars is not only to join the battle for ethnic studies, but also to accept responsibility for developing a seamless pathway into teaching for Ethnic Studies majors.
Throughout the webinar series, we have listened to scholars, activists, and creators of various Ethnic Studies and Teacher Education programs. We have explored the collaborative endeavors of our colleagues in K-12 and discussed the complexities of community-based Ethnic Studies projects. We have also polled and fielded hundreds of feedback and questions that illuminate a glaring void in a statewide systemic approach that cultivates a seamless pathway from community and schools to higher education—both community colleges and universities. No program is attending to all components leaving many aspiring Ethnic Studies teacher candidates to navigate the system alone. Our sixth webinar unites ethnic studies and teacher education scholars, community members, K-12 teachers and others to engage in dialogue and develop a a Policy and Advocacy Agenda for Ethnic Studies and Teacher Preparation that takes into account the programs, funding, materials and resources needed to develop seamless pathways for the next generation of Ethnic Studies teachers.
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