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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #20-55
July 7, 2020
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Hosts First Virtual Classroom Session in Ethnic Studies Featuring Educators and Students

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today convened the first in a series of virtual classroom events on ethnic studies. The event today engaged students in a real-time dialogue about the importance of ethnic studies and offered a lesson and activity within the discipline of African American Studies, one of the four foundational groups of ethnic studies.

An archived broadcast of today’s webinar can be found on the California Department of Education (CDE) Facebook page External link opens in new window or tab. .

As the CDE prepares to submit a revised Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum for public review, these webinars will help students, educators, and families familiarize themselves with the core areas of ethnic studies, including how different groups have struggled and worked together, as well as key concepts such as equality, justice, race, ethnicity, and indigeneity.

“As we are engaging in more conversations about race and racism in our own communities and as a nation, we have heard from students and educators that the pursuit of a more just society begins in the classroom,” said Thurmond. “It’s never been clearer that now is the time to devote a special emphasis to teaching students about the struggles, histories, and contributions from people of color in our state and national history.”

During Tuesday’s virtual event, students and members of student groups throughout California (including the CDE’s Youth Advisory Council, Kingmakers of Oakland, M.E.Ch.A., and the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project) learned about the history of Ethnic Studies and Africana Studies from one of its founders, Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber, who is recognized nationally and internationally for her work to establish the discipline of Africana Studies. Assemblymember Jose Medina, who taught history and ethnic studies for three decades and drafted legislation to make ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement, also shared why ethnic studies is important for all students.

During a robust conversation led by Dr. Shirley Weber, many students commented that they were starting to realize the power of seeing themselves reflected in a curriculum, and how that can empower them in their daily lives and to accomplish their goals.

This series of youth-focused virtual classroom experiences continues this month, and focuses on all four foundational groups of ethnic studies: Africana Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicano Latino Studies, and Native American Studies. The series will feature prominent leaders and educators from each discipline to provide a lecture during the webinar. The virtual educational series occurs weekly through July 28. All will be broadcast on the CDE Facebook page External link opens in new window or tab. . The remaining schedule and guests are as follows:

  • Tuesday, July 14, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: Chicano Latino Studies with Assemblymember Jose Medina and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta.
  • Tuesday, July 21, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: Asian American Studies with Karen Korematsu, educator, civil rights advocate, and daughter of late civil rights icon Fred Korematsu.
  • Tuesday, July 28, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Native American Studies with Assemblymember James C. Ramos, co-founder of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians’ Cultural Awareness Program and director of the California Indian Cultural Awareness Conference at California State University, San Bernardino.

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Friday, February 4, 2022
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