A national movement grows
A few large public school districts like Philadelphia and San Francisco created ethnic studies courses before the Arizona ban. But between 2013 and 2018, districts up and down the West Coast like Seattle, Portland, Oakland, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego adopted courses and established departments. In some cases, these school systems made taking ethnic studies classes a graduation requirement.
The current struggle in California highlights how K-12 ethnic studies has become a matter of state policy too. Since the 2012 ban in Arizona, nine U.S states—California, Connecticut, Indiana, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington—and the District of Columbia have passed laws or policies that establish standards, create committees or authorize courses for K-12 ethnic studies specifically, or multicultural history more generally.
In the same time period, 12 other states have introduced legislation in support of ethnic studies or multicultural history, but those bills have gotten stuck in committee, been postponed or failed.
Teaching about Native Americans
It is important to note that K-12 Native American education standards and curriculum have their own history outside of the movement for ethnic studies. Federal and state offices for Native American education have existed for decades.
As a 2019 study by the National Congress of American Indians highlights, at least 10 states have standards for, and require, a Native American education curriculum. About a dozen more have standards for teaching content about Native Americans.
- Black History Instruction Gets New Emphasis in Many States
PewTrusts.org, August 20, 2020
- Ethnic studies can’t make up for whitewashed history in classrooms
Washington Post, October 11, 2020
- Rethinking Ethnic Studies (book)
- Ethnic Studies In Seattle: A look inside the classrooms of antiracist educators
IAmAnEducator.com, May 22, 2018
- Ethnic studies victories in Arizona come at critical time for the state and country
NEAEdjustice.org, October 12, 2017
- Educators and NAACP persuade Hoosiers ethnic studies benefit everyone
NEAEdjustice.org, June 19, 2017
- Resolution 2016-17/17, Supporting Ethnic Studies in Seattle Public Schools
Seattle Public Schools, June 5, 2017
- Students push Seattle school board to support ethnic studies as central to the American experience
NEAEdjustice.org, March 24, 2017
- A Resolution of the Pima County Board of Supervisors in Support of Increasing Ethnic Studies Courses and Programs of Study in Arizona and in Support of the Creation of an Arizona Ethnic Studies Articulation Task Force
Pima County Board of Supervisors, March 23, 2016
- A Education activist expands students’ reach of ethnic studies of an Arizona Ethnic Studies Articulation Task Force
NEAEdjustice.org, January 27, 2016