Ethnic studies resolution passes in Anaheim Elementary School District

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ETHNIC studies will now be a part of the Anaheim Elementary School District (AESD) curriculum after the AESD Board of Education on February 26 voted 5-0 to broaden social studies curricula to the reflect dynamic and diverse communities the district serves.

Taking effect in the 2020-2021 school year, the updated curricula will adhere to the statewide mandate AB-2016, which requires schools to adopt the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.

Among the key principles and values of the model curriculum include the promotion of “the values of civic engagement and civic responsibility,” “self and collective empowerment,” and critical thinking and rigorous analysis of history, systems of oppression and the status quo in an effort to generate discussions on futurity and imagine new possibilities.”

The resolution’s passing reflects a national and statewide shift in academia that values ethnic studies as a necessary interdisciplinary area of study for primary and secondary school students.

For the AESD, which serves a student body that is roughly 90% students of color, the groundbreaking move will introduce a variety of previously-disregarded social studies topics, including the history of Filipinos in the United States.

“I am incredibly proud that our Board voted 5-0 in support of Ethnic Studies,” Jose Paolo Magcalas, president of the AESD Board of Education, said in an email sent to the Asian Journal. “I am proud that we understand the importance of including everyone’s contributions in the U.S. history curriculum. I wish I learned about Filipino-American history as well as many untold histories as a child.”

According to Census Reporter, Asians are the third-largest ethnic group living within the bounds of the AESD at 13%; they trail whites at 16% but the vast majority of residents are Hispanic (67%). Raw data provided by the California Department of Education found that in the 2018-2019 academic year there were a total of 742 Asian students, 238 of them being Filipino.

Magcalas, a Filipino American educator who teaches ethnic studies and U.S. history at Loara High School, was elected school board president in late 2019, but his efforts to include Filipino American history into schools go beyond the ethnic studies resolution.

Previously he introduced a resolution to designate October 25 as Larry Itliong Day to honor the Filipino labor leader’s successful organizing efforts to establish rights for farmworkers. The resolution was unanimously approved by the AESD in 2017.

Board Clerk of the AESD Gabriel Alvarez also celebrated the resolution’s passing, noting that his own sons —who are of Mexican and indigenous American descent — belong to the district.

“I understand the importance of my own children embracing their cultural roots and being proud of their ancestors and believe that all children should be afforded that opportunity. It is essential that all of our students from Anaheim see themselves and their families represented in the social studies curriculum,” Alvarez said.

The development and planning of the ethnic studies courses will take place over the course of several meetings in the summer of 2020 wherein the district’s Social Studies Committee will lead the “professional learning plan for all teachers to build awareness and understanding of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.”

For any Filipino parents and community members who may want to get involved with the effort to include more Filipino history in school curricula are welcome to join the Local Control and Accountability Plan, the Social Studies Committee or any of the Parent Leadership groups, Magcalas said. (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)

Klarize Medenilla

Klarize Medenilla is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at k.medenilla@asianjournalinc.com.

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