Last month, California requested public comment on their plan for an Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum for grades K-12, sparking wide ranging criticism.
The plan is in response to a law passed by the State legislature in 2016 that would require that ethnic courses of study be established by 2020. Once it is implemented in the state, the authors of the legislation hope it will receive nationwide attention and become a paradigm for school systems throughout the country.
When the final plan goes into effect, school districts in California would be required to identify the courses that would best fit the racial make-up of their students. Categories include Black/African American, Chicano, Native American and Asian American. The plan also recognizes that in the category of Asian American, there could also be Pacific Islanders and Arab Americans. Targeted course work would include history, language, art and economies of different cultures.
But the curriculum would also go further.
In a scathing opinion piece published by the Wall Street Journal last week, Williamson M. Evers, a researcher at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute, describes the curriculum as indoctrination, not instruction. According to Evers, the proposal describes capitalism as a “form of power and oppression,” closely related to “racism, patriarchy and white supremacy.”
He also said that the guidelines suggest critical thinking standards should be interpreted by teachers as encouraging students to speak out on social issues instead of the normally-accepted definition of teaching students to solve problems by using “reasoning through logic and consideration of evidence.”
Notwithstanding millennia of philosophers who used critical thinking as the foundation of the great societies of the world, California teachers who came up with this model feel this is the best way to teach their children in the 21st century. They are also advocating for changing gender embedded words such as history, to “herstory” or “hxstory.”
California spends an average of $17,000 per student per year on K-12 public school education. Less than 50% of 4th and 8th grade students are proficient on English standardized tests, and only 43% and 37% are proficient in Math, respectively.
Common sense and critical thinking then would seem to suggest that California would do better to concentrate on the basics of learning and a wider range general curriculum.
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