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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #23-59
August 16, 2023
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, Inspirational Speakers Discuss Importance of Establishing Ethnic Studies Curriculum

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond hosted a webinar featuring a variety of inspirational speakers who discussed the importance and journey of ethnic studies in California. The webinar provided 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.

“We know that inclusive education works, and ethnic studies is one of the best examples that we can offer for our students,” said Thurmond. “Simply put, inclusive education means students of color get to learn about the contributions of their ancestors and to see representations of themselves in our schools. Ethnic studies is a program that means students from all backgrounds do well and do better academically.”

Special guests who joined Thurmond for today’s event to discuss their personal stories and the importance of ethnic studies included Dr. Shirley Weber, California Secretary of State; labor icon and California Education Ambassador Dolores Huerta, Founder and President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation; Assemblymember Jose Medina, who authored Assembly Bill 101, which Thurmond sponsored, 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.

“Ethnic studies is truly a transformational experience where people get balanced truth, and it gives students a sense of who they are and who their peers are,” said Dr. Weber, who also founded the Africana Studies Department at San Diego State University. “I am a strong advocate for ethnic studies curriculum—there’s a reason people don’t want to discuss it—but we must insist that we not only discuss it, but that they teach it to our children, and they teach the correct information.”

The webinar also featured experts who discussed how to use the ESMC guide to create an ethnic studies curriculum and professional development opportunities to inform the creation of courses. Learn more about today’s event in this August 15 letter from the California Department of Education. The webinar is archived on the CDE’s Facebook page External link opens in new window or tab. and is an excellent opportunity for students and educators to learn together from leaders and experts in the field about the opportunities and benefits that ethnic studies can bring to a school community.    

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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, August 16, 2023
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