Huntington Beach Union High School District students and teachers are currently working with the district to create an ethnic studies class that will be available for all HBUHSD schools by fall 2021.
Ethnic studies curricula aim to acknowledge the historical roles and contributions of Americans from marginalized communities who are not well represented in the current educational curriculum.
The course aims to create a better community of citizens for the future, said Fountain Valley High School senior Cielo Chavarria, who serves as a student representative on the HBUHSD Ethnic Studies Course Development Committee.
“We must continue to educate ourselves in order to uproot systemic racism and form a more perfect union,” Chavarria said.
According to Chavarria, the current HBUHSD course description for the class states that “ethnic studies will encourage students to explore the historic struggles, current experiences, and perspectives of people of color, including where the axes of racial and ethnic identity intersect with gender, class, sexuality, and other components of what may define an individual or community.”
The course consists of four units:
- Identity, Indigeneity and Origins
- Power and Oppression
- Justice, Resistance and Liberation
- Regeneration and Action
Ethnic Studies will conclude with an end-of-the-year assessment in which students devise a plan to address a societal issue of their choice.
Starting fall 2021, the course will be offered as a year-long elective. Although Ethnic Studies was originally designed for juniors and seniors, anyone who is interested in taking the course can do so. The course is academically rigorous, but Chavarria says that shouldn’t discourage anyone interested from participating.
“If you are someone who is hesitant around this type of class, I want to reiterate that this course is made for everyone to excel,” Chavarria said.
Ethnic Studies expands the experiences of excluded groups from the traditional narrative.
“All of our American stories are equally important and important enough to be taught. Ethnic Studies tells all of our American stories,” Chavarria said. “Ethnic Studies is American Studies.”
This new implementation comes in response to the California State Board of Education’s recent approval of ethnic studies curriculum in K-12 schools and work done by HBUHSD community members.
A group called Education Organizers for Racial Equality (EORE), made up of HBUHSD alumni, students, teachers, parents and other community members, presented a proposal on Sept. 14, 2020 to the HBUHSD Board of Trustees advocating for an ethnic studies course. With success, the group worked with the district to form an HBUHSD Ethnic Studies Course Development Committee to develop the course’s curriculum and implement it in schools.
Currently, the committee is still in the stages of developing the curriculum and plans “to distribute a district-wide survey and one-pager of the course so that all HBUHSD students will have the opportunity to share their voice in the curriculum,” Chavarria said.
After the curriculum is finalized, the committee will await approval from the University of California system and the HBUHSD New Course Adoption Committee in May.
“As a student, I’m thankful to have an equal say in developing curriculum,” she said. “I am deeply honored to serve alongside a diverse and devoted committee of HBUHSD educators to create a more inclusive curriculum.”