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The Campanile

The Campanile

Ethnic Studies should include more student input


In order to comply with California Assembly Bill 101, the board of education approved a required Ethnic Studies course for freshman starting with the class of 2029, the current 7th grade class. Although the state provides a model curriculum as a teaching guide, state guidelines encourage school districts to design a course that reflects the backgrounds and needs of its students. 

According to teachers and educational leads in the district, the PAUSD curriculum will provide opportunities for students to explore their identities and delve deep into topics they are curious about. The district also says it will collect student input to help develop the course. The Campanile praises PAUSD for its openness in developing a flexible curriculum that takes student input into consideration and promotes cultural engagement. While traditional history classes explore history from a broad lens, ethnic studies invites students to examine past events from the perspective of historically marginalized groups, fostering a commitment to equity.

The Campanile thinks an ethnic studies requirement is a beneficial step toward diversifying student perspectives about the human experience and expanding their worldview. As pressing sociopolitical issues such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas conflict continue to disrupt the global landscape, it is imperative for students to educate themselves and learn from the past in order to understand the present.

The Campanile also praises PAUSD for requesting student input on the course duing PRIME sessions. This is a good first step toward developing an inclusive yet comprehensive curriculum. 

However, in order to encourage an even more diverse range of student input, we urge district officials to provide even more ways for students to give their opinions and share their experiences. 

Similarly to how student committees were used for advising the development of the bell schedule, the district should implement a similar plan for gathering student input about ethnic studies. Students often need to use PRIME sessions to ask for help from teachers, so PRIME isn’t always the best time for students to give input on other issues. At the first PRIME session to get input on ethnic studies, for example, only 11 students showed up, hardly a representative sample of student opinion.

Schoology surveys, additional meetings and better publicity about meetings related to ethnic studies would allow PAUSD to cast a wider net, capturing a larger range of student views and ultimately providing more opportunities for students to pave their own learning paths, making the future ethnic studies course even better. 

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