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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
August 15, 2023

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:

Share the Value of Ethnic Studies with Your Students in Class Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 16

The California Department of Education (CDE) and I stand united with the Pacific Islander community and all residents of Hawaii in this time of profound grief caused by the devastating Maui wildfires. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and we extend our deepest sympathies for the losses they endured. They do not walk this path alone.

In this time of healing and reflection, we invite you and your students to listen to a host of inspirational speakers via livestream at our next Ethnic Studies Webinar, scheduled tomorrow, Wednesday, August 16, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The webinar can be watched on Zoom and will also be livestreamed on Facebook.

The event will feature a variety of inspirational speakers who will discuss the importance of ethnic studies, including Dr. Shirley Weber, California Secretary of State; labor icon Dolores Huerta, Founder and President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation; Assemblymember Jose Medina, who authored Assembly Bill 101 to create the ethnic studies graduation requirement; Dr. Karen Korematsu, Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute; and Manufou Liaiga-Anoa’i, Board Trustee for Jefferson Elementary School District and Executive Director of the Pacific Islander Community Partnership, who established an organization to teach students the cultural practices of Polynesian people.

This webinar will provide an opportunity for local educational agencies (LEAs) to become acquainted with the benefits of ethnic studies and to be reacquainted with the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) guide that was approved by the State Board of Education to inform LEAs in establishing their own ethnic studies curriculum.

Ethnic studies is a great example of how inclusive education promotes academic achievement and social development for students. Ethnic studies is proven to help students learn about the contributions of African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and research shows that ethnic studies helps students from all backgrounds do better academically.

The webinar will focus on how to use the ESMC guide to create an ethnic studies curriculum. The guide provides an overview of what has been included historically in ethnic studies classes and includes lesson plans that can be helpful for educators at every level. The ESMC guide itself and Assembly Bill 101, the legislation that enabled the ethnic studies graduation requirement, were written to help promote ethnic studies and prevent the inclusion of any topic that might be considered offensive or controversial. Assembly Bill 101 says that to the extent that LEAs, including charter schools, choose to locally develop an ethnic studies program for approval by their governing board or governing body, it is the intent of the California State Legislature that LEAs not use the portions of the draft model curriculum that were not adopted by the Instructional Quality Commission due to concerns related to bias, bigotry, and discrimination.

The CDE and I recently launched a training certification for trainers, curriculum developers, school staff, and others who want to be certified in the use of the ESMC guide. We recommend that districts creating an ethnic studies curriculum work with those who have been certified in the use of the ESMC guide. The staff at the CDE and the San Diego County Office of Education, the lead technical assistance agency for implementing the state ethnic studies graduation requirement, stand by to assist you with any needs you might have regarding ethnic studies.

Please register via Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_nf7DKwzpRq264PkCf5YqUg and direct any questions to ESMCPD@cde.ca.gov.

We look forward to seeing you at the webinar.

Sincerely,

Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, August 16, 2023

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