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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #20-95
November 18, 2020
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, Educators Discuss Approaches to Teaching Native American Studies During First Event in Education to End Hate Virtual Classroom Series

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today hosted the first event in a series of ongoing virtual classroom and professional development sessions as part of the Education to End Hate initiative, a multifaceted effort to use the power of public education to drive change and confront racism and bigotry.

The event focused on pedagogical approaches to teaching about Native Americans, and presenters included Mary Levi, fourth grade teacher, Chair of the California Teachers Association’s American Indian/Alaska Native Caucus, and member of the Hopi Tribe, and Dr. Niki Sandoval, Senior Strategic Development Manager at WestEd, Continuing Lecturer at U.C. Santa Barbara’s Department of Education, former Education Director for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, and former member of the California State Board of Education.

“Today’s event is part of an ongoing conversation and effort to address gaps related to how to teach about Native Americans and Native American Studies, but it’s also about empowering educators and students to confront historical and present-day hate, bigotry, and racism in communities across the state and nation,” said Thurmond. “Our hope with the Education to End Hate initiative is that through digging deeper into the complexities of our diverse and difficult histories—not denying or ignoring them—education can provide a pathway to healing, understanding, and racial and social justice.”

Today’s presentations focused on ways educators can use culturally responsive instruction that teaches respect for Native peoples and that emphasizes experiential, active, and student-centered learning. Some of the approaches mentioned included incorporating first-person voices, project-based learning, storytelling, and inquiry-based approaches.

The Education to End Hate initiative has three components: Educator training grants, which have been awarded to schools and districts across the state and will be used to support the improvement and development of curriculum as well as address systemic problems in policies and procedures; this virtual classroom series; and finally, the upcoming creation of a roundtable with leaders, social justice organizations, educators, and lawmakers to brainstorm additional ideas for ways schools can influence the change necessary to ensure a physically and emotionally safe learning environment that is inclusive for all students.

An archived broadcast of this virtual classroom session can be found on the California Department of Education Facebook page External link opens in new window or tab..

The series continues next month with a December 9, 2020, event centered on countering anti-Semitism followed by a session on countering Islamophobia on January 12, 2021.

Members of the public with questions and feedback on the initiative are encouraged to reach out at

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

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, March 6, 2024
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