Critics claim liberal bias in Ethnic Studies courses

Michael Thomas, Staff Writer

The past few decades, has witnessed a rising push by state legislators for schools to develop an Ethnic Studies course. The idea began at the college level and has trickled down as far as elementary schools; some districts have even made Ethnic Studies a graduation requirement. This year, Bear Creek is offering its own Ethnic Studies course — developed and taught by AVID teacher Xeng Xiong — with an emphasis on Ethnic Literature.

Being one of the most diverse states in the country, California residents have always pushed particularly hard for Ethnic Studies. It is no surprise that California universities played an instrumental role in formulating and normalizing the Ethnic Studies curriculum broadly adopted nationwide.

Recently, California’s Dept. of Education released a document of recommended curriculum and tools for the implementation of Ethnic Studies developed by historians, bureaucrats and education professionals. However, wording and phrases within the document have raised issues that the curriculum for the course is biased towards liberal views. Some opponents of the implementation of Ethnic Studies have gone as far as to say the entire course is left-wing propaganda infiltrating the public school system.

“[This] new model curriculum for ‘Ethnic Studies’ is a handbook for classroom propagandizing,” former Asst. Secretary of Education Williamson M. Ever said in a “Wall Street Journal” article published in July.

The curriculum emphasizes history from the perspective of minorities, specifically focusing on classism, xenophobia, white supremacy, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia. It also encourages instructors to teach students how to be social activists, emphasizing the belief that education should be a tool for transformation, social change and

liberation. Some suggested projects include organizing hypothetical boycotts and writing speeches from the perspective of a conservationist.

Bear Creek’s own course, however, is almost entirely based on the study of Ethnic Literature.

“An Ethnic Studies course is focused primarily on social sciences,” Xiong said. “This is an Ethnic Literature course, but we will definitely bring in some current events and issues this literature touches upon [because] a lot of these novels focus on a sense of belonging, cultural identity and one’s experience as a minority in the United States.”

“We’ve taken time in the class to analyze the themes of influence on cultural identity,” Ethnic Literature student Emma Glanville, a junior, said. “Also, we’ve looked at assimilation and acculturation in the lives of Mexican immigrants.”

The course will be broken down into four units, one per quarter. Xiong plans to have her students read “Bless Me Ultima,” “Picture Bride,” “The Invisible Man” and other works by other notable authors of color.

“First quarter will focus on Chicano literature, second quarter is Asian-American literature, third quarter will be African-American literature and fourth quarter will be Native-American and contemporary literature,” Xiong said.

One of the most prevalent issues raised about Ethnic Studies and Ethnic Literature alike is a lack of regard for America’s complex history of anti-semitism. Xiong plans to address the Jewish experience during the fourth quarter.

Xiong says the course is essential to students at such an ethnically diverse school such as Bear Creek and stands only to widen students’ understanding of their society.

“This is an English class, so they will still be receiving reading and writing skills but also the content,” said Xiong. “Especially growing up in a diverse state, I think it’s really important for students to know the experience of their peers and those that make up this country.”

Students in the course say they support the topics chosen.

“[Ethnic Studies] is different from regular English which gets repetitive,” Ethnic Literature student Sadie Campos, a senior, said. “It’s English but in a different way.”

Current students recommend the class both as an opportunity to broaden knowledge of Ethnic Literature and as an escape from CP English courses.

“There’s a reason to take this class,” Ethnic Literature student Elliot Fry, a junior, said. “There’s purpose here, unlike StudySync, where you’re learning random passages; this actually has meaning to it.”