Town Square

Post a New Topic

MVLA looks to implement mandatory ethnic studies course for all freshmen

Original post made on Oct 1, 2021

Teachers and administrators support offering a yearlong, required course. Board members appear generally supportive, though no formal vote has been taken. Staff expect to be present a proposed curriculum to the board in the spring.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 1, 2021, 9:46 AM

Comments (14)

Posted by Tal Shaya
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Oct 1, 2021 at 11:19 am

Tal Shaya is a registered user.

"Offering a mandatory...?"

Something this is mandatory is not "offered," it's required.

Even the language they use to describe the program is weasel words.

Please leave your politics at home. It doesn't belong in public schools.

Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Oct 1, 2021 at 12:11 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

Tal, can you elaborate on what you mean here by "politics" with respect to this curriculum?

Posted by Brian
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 1, 2021 at 12:57 pm

Brian is a registered user.

I do hope the proposed curriculum is made public and carefully reviewed by the community. AB 101, if signed by the Governor, would allow school districts to use any curriculum including the anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli curriculum that was first proposed as the state standard.

(Web Link

I certainly hope during a time where we have seen a rise in antisemitism is on the rise and Jewish students in American colleges are under attack, figuratively and sometimes literally (Web Link that whatever curriculum is introduced doesn't further this trend.

Posted by ivg
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2021 at 5:15 pm

ivg is a registered user.

Brian, I think that's exactly what Phil Faillace meant in his comment.

Posted by Raymond
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 1, 2021 at 10:16 pm

Raymond is a registered user.

Close attention by skeptical parents is definitely needed. The district would better attend to the relatively low numbers of students reaching grade level in Math & English before forcing students and staff to spend time on "ethnic studies". Maybe an extra Math or English course? Maybe an economics course?

Posted by Nora S.
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 2, 2021 at 10:09 am

Nora S. is a registered user.

Agree with Tal here. "Offering" and "opportunity" are not the right words to use when discussing a new mandatory requirement. The fact that these weasel words are being used are indicative of spin. Why is there spin? Because it is controversial to add requirements to the curriculum.

Even if one supports the idea of ethnic studies courses being offered (which I emphatically do), adding new any course *requirements* is a questionable move. High school students already have a heavy load of required courses. What is going to be dropped in order to accommodate this new requirement? How about allowing it to replace a required history course? I challenge the school board to put their curriculum where their mouth is, by finding another course to drop in favor of this important new class.

Posted by HAB
a resident of Willowgate
on Oct 20, 2021 at 12:23 pm

HAB is a registered user.

All curricula is political. It's been a political choice to teach US exceptionalism through the mainly white, male, straight, cisgendered lens for centuries. Ethnic studies expands history in an inclusive manner so we all have a better understanding of history as its impacts are felt today.

As Raymond suggested, "maybe an extra Math, or English course," Social Studies and History fulfill reading/writing requirements of English. And, if we only focus on Math/Science, we neglect having students who understand History, Culture, Ethics as well as Physics, Algebra, etc.

It angers me that my history curricula throughout a public school education in multiple states in the US neglected to provide a better understanding of events from all perspectives--not just the victors' perspectives. It doesn't harm me, as a white women, one bit to understand how history unfolded and oppressed, exploited, and excluded many people because of the power structures then. In fact, it's harmful to give a false impressions of historical events in order to maintain a certain order/power structure. If we don't understand history, we're doomed to repeat it--and we're seeing that play out in how white parents are pushing back against ethnic studies, culturally responsive teaching, and other inclusive measures. White flight was a response to desegregation and I see echoes of that in the current pushback against inclusive teaching and policies in education.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 23, 2021 at 5:02 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

If your kid took History at MVHS, even as far back as 2010, you would have seen that the coursework covered A LOT of the problems of race/colonialism/slavery/ and some of the fallout that resulted from that [East Asian parent bitterness at opioids/pot - study The Opium Wars (Boxer Rebellion) in that HS curriculum].

But even an AP (Advance Placement / sometimes college credit /) course can't cover it all.

IMO ELECTIVE rollout would have been much better.

I had an interesting electve in De-Colonization in Africa where I (in early 1970's) learned a lot about SWAPO, ANC, Portugese racism, Boer War, - and The Western Thinking behind much of the problems. Elective - for an Astronomy major, required = some 'breath' our education'!

Posted by Amyra Patel
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 27, 2021 at 12:26 pm

Amyra Patel is a registered user.

I question whether a course like this is really needed.

There will always be prejudice regardless of any efforts to curtail it.

As an individual of East Indian descent, I have simply chosen to avoid and ignore bigotry by not associating with those who are racist and uneducated.

Higher education and choice of occupation also plays a role.

One cannot expect an undereducated working class environment to be open-minded, especially among white people.

Posted by Ok
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 27, 2021 at 3:02 pm

Ok is a registered user.

Most of the students in MVLA are not “white privileged”. Caucasians are 38.7% and among them there are a lot of immigrants of different ethnic backgrounds that had nothing to do with American exceptionalism.

Posted by Lei Ping
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 30, 2021 at 11:32 am

Lei Ping is a registered user.

As a recent immigrant to America (SF Bay Area), it is very difficult for my foreign-born children to fully comprehend the entire impact of the various historical and social issues that defines America today (i.e. repercussions from the Civil War, slavery etc.)

On the other hand, since we are relatively new arrivals to the United States (2005), I see no reason why established American citizen students need to be indoctrinated about the plight and culture of the countless newly arrived refugees and immigrants to the United States.

Full assimilation into American culture is paramount and ethnic culture is best reserved for family, church, and social gatherings.

I can fully understand why some Americans do not want ethnic diversity and education rammed down their throats.

No different than American expatriates in the PRC (if any) demanding that U.S. history and culture be a part of Chinese educational curriculum.

Posted by Joshua K.
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 31, 2021 at 12:21 pm

Joshua K. is a registered user.

Are mandatory ethnic studies (aka sensitivity coursework) really necessary?

This leaves even less time for courses like math and science that really matter when it comes to attaining gainful employment that pays reasonably well.

Ethnic studies are best reserved as lower division college curriculum (for those so inclined) as over-focusing on the humanities offers minimal high-paying job prospects unless one opts to become yet another fly-by-night attorney

Posted by Consuelo DeLaCruz
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 8, 2021 at 11:04 am

Consuelo DeLaCruz is a registered user.

Cancel Culture is historical enlightenment and to evade or disregard the impact of white bigotry is to turn a blind eye to the wrongful nature of racism.

To date, both Boalt Hall & the Hastings College of Law have had their names removed by the UC Board of Regents as both Boalt and Hastings were xenophobes and ethnocentric racists (aka wealthy white men).

Junipero Serra's name was removed from Stanford University along with the statue of Robert E. Lee in Virginia.

This is a step in the right direction as these individuals were not heroes or worthy of any historical respect along with David Starr Jordan and Terman who also had their names removed by the PAUSD.

Slaveholder Thomas Jefferson is next.

Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Dec 29, 2021 at 3:26 pm

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

MVLA offers AP US History, AP World History, AP European History, AP Government, and AP Economics. Social studies, the one discipline that should reflect John Dewey’s vision of public schools being a living laboratory for democracy, is a largely tracked experience at MVLA with students having fewer chances to hear from, work with, and learn from those different from themselves.

A better approach than one ethnic studies class, would be to examine what and with whom all four years of social studies is taught, to ensure that all social studies classes reflect a more complete story of society.

MVLA has an open enrollment policy with regards to AP classes, but tracking as an outcome still persists. While the College Board is making its own moves to diversify its AP curriculum, the enemy to a truly diversified AP curriculum is not the College Board’s intentions, but the scarcity of time, in that one can’t teach the full scope of what AP social studies classes demand and still provide the properly thoughtful and messy process of learning America’s complex past with race, ethnicity, gender, economic class, or indigenous history.

True to their Cold War origins, AP math and science classes continue to play a powerful role in ensuring young people are ready to solve the complex problems ahead. AP classes in social studies do less to serve that mission.

If AP classes in social studies are here to stay, then high school ethnic studies is a welcome addition, and state legislation has already bound MVLA. That said, it would have been better to not add one more high school graduation requirement, and rather, give students the complete history with their complete community each of their four years.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Mountain View Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Try this for healthier, more drought-resistant plants
By Sherry Listgarten | 7 comments | 4,130 views

Lucky Palo Alto voters – maybe two tax increases to approve in November
By Diana Diamond | 19 comments | 2,742 views

Westfield Valley Fair’s Rabbit Rabbit Tea boba stand expands to an ice cream shop at Stanford Shopping Center
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 2,436 views