Campaign for Ethnic Studies

Petition in support of the Proposal to pilot a 9th grade Ethnic Studies course in the San Francisco Unified School District during the 2010-11 school year

This proposal requests funding to pilot a 9th grade Ethnic Studies course in the San Francisco Unified School District during the 2010-11 school year. The proposed pilot will include 250 students and five teachers at five high schools, as well as support staff from the SFUSD Office of Learning Support and Equity and the San Francisco State University College of Ethnic Studies. It includes a rigorous evaluation of the effects of the course on students’ academic growth and their attitudes toward education and social justice issues. The budget requested to implement the pilot program is $301,000 for the 2010-11 school year.


Vision statement

The SFUSD 9th grade ethnic studies course aims to educate students to be politically, socially, and economically conscious about their personal connections to local and global histories. By studying the histories of race, ethnicity, and culture students will cultivate respect and empathy for individuals and solidarity with groups of people locally, nationally and globally so as to foster active participation and community building. Honoring the historical legacy of social movements and mass struggles against injustice including the establishment of ethnic studies programs in public schools and university curricula, this course aims to provide an emancipatory education that will inspire students to critically engage in self-determination and seek social justice for all.


Mission statement

The curriculum and pedagogy of the SFUSD 9th grade ethnic studies course will deepen students’ political, social, and economic awareness and deepen their pride about their personal identities and connections to local and global histories. Through student-centered,interactive, and problem-posing teaching methods, along with projects where students will be encouraged to develop and compare the narratives of their families and communities, students will analyze the past and put it in the service of the present.


The curriculum will provide opportunities for students to study the histories of race, ethnicity, and culture and the intersections with other sociohistorical constructions such as gender, class, sexuality, generation, nationalism, and migration. This course will also include community leaders and organizers as guest speakers to insurethe course content is directly connected to local issues. There will be assignments and activities that will be aimed to create community among the students in the classroom and field experiences that allow the community to bea classroom as well. Through the exploration of primary sources, interdisciplinary readings, research skill building, and challenging writing assignments, this course will build the academic skills of all students. The following are the main questions that this course aims to tackle: How can we examine, challenge, and transform the persistence of social, economic, and political inequality in our communities? How can we develop, implement, and evaluate a plan to act to eliminate the conditions of social inequality in our communities?


2008-2009 Successful implementation of and the future of Ethnic Studies in SFUSD

Last year the 9th grade Ethnic Studies Course was taught at four schools in the district. Through the social lens taught in ethnic studies, students were able to analyze sociohistorical data and events in a manner that would carry them on to success in future history courses. As one of the piloting teachers, Aimee Riechel testified, “I am extremely impressed with my tenth graders in my modern world history class.  As a result of their ninth grade ethnic studies experience, they have the ability to critically interpret historical events and connect them with a larger struggle to promote self-determination around the world. I observed my students speaking and writing about historical events with a lens that reflects their consciousness about social justice issues and their responsibility to the world community.”Although there are four schools that offer ethnic studies in the 2009-2010 school year,  there has been very little support from the district to institutionalize the course and to foster its growth. Ethnic Studies movement is part of a decades long struggle that began at San Francisco State University as a student led movement  in the 60’s to provide relevant instruction. The implementation of Ethnic Studies in SFUSD represents the extension of relevant and humanizing instruction to students whose histories have largely been excluded from the historical narrative.

I, the undersigned, believe that creating an educational connection that links identity and culture to the California History Standards in an Ethnic Studies curriculum can positively impact our San Francisco youth.  Ethnic Studies inspires them to identify their heritage with their education, fosters a positive response to shared struggle and oppression, and encourages school-wide academic progress. Therefore, I strongly support adopting the 9th Grade Ethnic Studies Program in San Francisco High Schools.



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    Kyle Beckham, United States

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    Aimee Riechel, United States

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