Teachers within the Jefferson Union High School District attend a seminar

Adam Pardee / Tribune

Teachers within the Jefferson Union High School District attend a seminar on Tuesday introducing an ethnic studies pilot program within the district.

The Jefferson Union High School District will soon offer a course in ethnic studies.

JUHSD is partnering with Community Responsive Education to bring ethnic studies to the curriculum. A committee of teachers is meeting monthly to work on their vision as ethnic studies educators as well as to develop a scope and sequence for a course, said Laurie Robinson, director of curriculum, instruction and accountability, in an email to the Tribune.

“The work is extremely important to expand spaces for our students to tell their stories and to acknowledge the cultural wealth of our community,” she wrote. “We are hoping to have a course in place to support the ethnic studies graduation requirement that was recently signed into law and will go into effect in 2030.”

Soon the committee of teachers will have their fourth meeting with Community Responsive Education.

“They will continue to discuss the vision for ethnic studies in the district as well as building community as a team of educators,” she wrote.

Curriculum building will start early next semester. The units for the courses will explore identity and cultural experiences reflective of the JUHSD population, created by district teachers, she wrote.

Community Responsive Education is there to help guide the process, as it has experience working with surrounding communities, such as Jefferson Elementary School District, Robinson wrote.

“The group has decided to focus their work on ninth-grade course material initially, though exactly what form the class will take will be flexible for the individual schools in our district,” she wrote. 

Signed into law in October, California high schools must offer ethnic studies courses starting in the 2025-26 school year for a graduation requirement in 2030.

Gov. Gavin Newson’s signature of Assembly Bill 101, the graduation requirement, ends a long search by advocates for a curriculum that more closely reflects California’s diverse population and their history and culture. One year ago he vetoed a bill because Jewish organizations dismissed it as prejudiced.

The legislation seeks to draw attention to the contributions and experiences of Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans. The model curriculum includes lessons on Sikh, Jewish, Arab and Armenian Americans who were added after those groups objected to being left out of earlier drafts.

Safeguards include a requirement that the instructional material not reflect or promote any bias, bigotry or discrimination. The legislation releases $50 million

in this year’s budget to develop ethnic studies curriculums.

Jane Northrop has covered Pacifica for the Pacifica Tribune since 1996. She has won first place John Swett Awards from the California Teachers Association for her coverage of education.

(2) comments

Elias Serna

Great news for the district, students. Ethnic Studies makes learning meaningful, engages students. The comment though that the governor "vetoed a bill because Jewish organizations dismissed it as prejudiced" is misleading. This makes readers believe the first draft authors were anti-semitic, completely untrue. The first draft was ambitious and overwhelmed the conservative Jewish caucus. Their attack of the first draft was an attempt to hijack curriculum and dismiss original authors. I believe the governor refused to sign because of the division caused by the influential legislative Jewish caucus. Conservatives continue to disrupt the direction of Ethnic Studies, currently attacking critical race theory. A truer Ethnic studies should be guided by Ethnic Studies experts.

Elias Serna

Great news for the district, students. Ethnic Studies makes learning meaningful, engages students. The comment though that the governor "vetoed a bill because Jewish organizations dismissed it as prejudiced" is misleading. This makes readers believe the first draft authors were anti-semitic, completely untrue. The first draft was ambitious and overwhelmed the conservative Jewish caucus. Their attack of the first draft was an attempt to hijack curriculum and dismiss original authors. I believe the governor refused to sign because of the division caused by the influential legislative Jewish caucus. Conservatives continue to disrupt the direction of Ethnic Studies, currently attacking critical race theory. A truer Ethnic studies should be guided by Ethnic Studies experts.

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